||The purpose of the Noise Control Ordinance Cap.400 (NCO) is to provide statutory controls to restrict and reduce the nuisance caused by environmental noise.
Details of the ordinance and related regulations can be found in the "Bilingual Laws Information System" website of the Department of Justice at
The NCO deals with the following forms of noise:
The Ordinance enables
Regulations and Technical Memoranda to be made which
introduce detailed control criteria, measurement
procedures and other technical matters. The provisions
of the Ordinance are enforced by the Director of
Environmental Protection (who has been appointed
as the Noise Control Authority) and the Hong Kong
The following types of noise is controlled under
other legislation :
noise (that is, noise generated inside
a factory or other industrial undertaking,
which affects employees in that work-place).
This type of noise is subject to control under
the Factories and Industrial Undertakings
Ordinance (Cap. 59), the enforcement of which
is carried out by the Labour Department. (For
details, please click here)
Noise. This type of noise is controlled
under the Civil Aviation (Aircraft Noise)
Ordinance (Cap. 312), Civil Aviation (Aircraft
Nose)(Certification) Regulations and Civil
Aviation (Aircraft Noise)(Aircraft Classes)
Notice. The enforcement of these legislations
is carried out by the Civil Aviation Department.
(For details, please click here)
The main provisions of the NCO are summarized
in the following sections. The numbers in brackets
following the headings refer to the relevant section
numbers in the Ordinance.
|Noise from Domestic Premises and Public Places (sections 4 and 5)
||Noise from domestic premises or public places includes noise which is produced in domestic premises by sources such as television sets, air-conditioners or dogs, and noise produced in public places by sources such as radios, hawkers or loudspeakers. This type of noise is commonly described as neighbourhood noise.
The following are some examples of noise from domestic premises and public places :
4 and 5 came into operation on 1 November 1989.
Section 4 of the Ordinance is a general provision
to control noise of this nature which is causing
annoyance to any person at night (11 p.m. to
7 a.m.) or on a general holiday.
Section 5 of the Ordinance provides control
over particular noise sources (in domestic premises
or public places) at any time of the day or
night. These sources are animals and birds,
musical instruments, loudspeakers, games, trades
or businesses and air conditioners.
It should be noted that the term 'domestic premises'
applies to individual dwellings or household
units and not to an entire building, which may
have mixed commercial and residential uses or
even industrial activities on lower floors.
Noise from the non-residential parts of such
buildings is controlled under section 13 of
The nature of the noise sources covered by these
provisions in sections 4 and 5 of the ordinance
is such that it is not possible to specify fixed
acceptable noise levels or noise measurement
procedures to be used in assessing the acceptability
of the noise. As is the case in other countries,
noise from domestic premises and public places
is to be dealt with by the police on a subjective
|Noise from Construction Sites (sections 6 to 8 and 8A)
|Under the Ordinance, construction activities are grouped into two categories and are controlled by means of a system of Construction Noise Permits (CNP):
shows piling work in progress :
||general construction work (for example, excavation, renovation, road work); and
||percussive piling (for example, piling by means of a hydraulic hammer as a drop hammer).
shows road work, which is a kind of general
construction work :
Each of these categories is controlled
by means of a system of Construction Noise
Permits, as described below.
The carrying out of
general construction work using powered
mechanical equipment during the restricted
hours, that is between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m.
or at any time on a general holiday (including
Sunday), is prohibited under the Ordinance
unless a valid Construction Noise Permit
is in force.
During the restricted
hours in Designated Areas, the use of specified
powered mechanical equipment (for example,
hand-held breakers and dump truck) and/or
the carrying out of the prescribed construction
activities (for example, erection or dismantling
of formwork and hammering) is subject to
more stringent control. The same system
of Construction Noise Permits for controlling
of powered mechanical equipment is used.
The Designated Areas, referred to as densely
populated built up areas, are defined under
the Noise Control (Construction Work Designated
The carrying out of percussive piling is
prohibited between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. and
on holidays. A valid Construction Noise Permit issued by the Environmental Protection Department is required for the carrying out of percussive piling during the permitted hours. The permitted hours generally falls into the period of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays not being a public holiday including Sunday. Depending on the nature of the noise sensitive receivers, the Construction Noise Permit may allow carrying out percussive piling of a total duration of 3, 5 or 12 hours during the permitted hours. The use
of noisy diesel, pneumatic and steam hammers
for percussive piling is banned in built-up
areas surrounded by noise sensitive uses
from 1 October 1999.
This chart summaries the statutory controls
on noise from various construction activities
at different times of the day :
for a Construction Noise Permit for the
two categories of works must be made to
the Noise Control Authority in the respective
prescribed form and accompanied by a cheque
of the prescribed fee. In considering
applications for carrying out general
construction work and percussive piling
the Authority will assess the impact of
the noise generated by the equipment at
any Noise Sensitive Receiver (such as
domestic premises) in the vicinity in
accordance with the assessment procedures
contained in the following Technical Memoranda
The picture below shows the front covers of the above three Technical Memoranda :
|Noise from Places other than Domestic Premises, Public Places or Construction Sites
||This kind of noise is also called industrial/commercial noise. Examples are noise from factories, ventilating systems of restaurants, noise from car repairing in garages and so on.
These photographs show some examples of industrial/commercial noise :
Noise from places
such as industrial, commercial, trade or business
premises is controlled by means of Noise Abatement
Notices which may be served on owners or occupiers
of premises if the noise emitted:
The following shows the cover page of the Technical Memorandum for the Assessment of Noise from Places other than Domestic Premises, Public Places or Construction Site. For details, please click on the cover.
not comply with objective technical criteria
in the form of Acceptable Noise Levels as
set out in the Technical Memorandum for
the Assessment of Noise from Places other
than Domestic Premises, Public Places or
a source of annoyance to any person (other
than a person in the place from which the
noise is emanating) in any place considered
to be a noise sensitive receiver in the
Technical Memorandum mentioned in paragraph
not comply with any standard or limit contained
in any Regulations which may be made in
A Noise Abatement Notice may require the owner or occupier to bring his noise emissions into a state of compliance by certain date and non-compliance with such a Notice will be an offence. Details of the appeal mechanism will be covered later. For an immediate access to details of the appeal mechanism, please click here.
It should be noted that there is no requirement for industry in general to achieve the Acceptable Noise Levels (ANL) immediately, but to bring the noise level to or below the ANL by the date specified on the Noise Abatement Notice. The EPD will, in practice, respond to complaints lodged by members of the public and compliance with the Acceptable Noise Levels will be required only after a Noise Abatement Notice has been served.
|Noise from Intruder Alarm Systems (sections 13A &
||The following cartoon shows the annoying nature of car alarms:
Intruder alarm systems for premises such as shops can be equally annoying.
Under the provisions in section 13A and 13B of the NCO, intruder alarm system installed in any premises and vehicle shall not sound for more than 15 minutes and 5 minutes respectively after being triggered. In addition, the vehicle alarms shall not sound unless the vehicles are being tampered with. The controllers or registered owners have to ensure their Intruder Alarm Systems comply with the requirements.
|Control of Noisy Products (sections 14 to 17)
||Sections 14 to 17 of the NCO stipulates that it is an offence to manufacture, import, sell or hire a prescribed product if it is intended for use in Hong Kong and does not comply with noise standards set out in the Regulations. It will also be an offence to use such a product.
At present, the Noise Control (Hand Held Percussive Breakers) Regulations and the Noise Control (Air Compressors) Regulations stipulate that only the handheld breakers and air compressors complying with the noise emission standards shall be allowed to be imported, manufactured or supplied for use in Hong Kong and be attached with a Noise Emission Label before its usage.
An application for such a label must be made to EPD in the prescribed form and accompanied by a cheque of the prescribed fee. A Noise Emission Label will be issued if EPD is satisfied that the relevant noise emission standard has been complied with. This would in effect phase out the particularly noisy equipment items and minimize the noise disturbances emanated from the work sites.
The following photographs show two Noise Emission Labels: one for a hand-held pneumatic breaker and one for an air-compressor:
|Noise Emission from Motor Vehicles (section 27)
from motor vehicles including motor cycles
is under control and has to meet specific
noise emission standards for registration
The provisions in the Noise Control (Motor
Vehicles) Regulation, made under section
27 of the Ordinance, deal with the control
of mechanical noise emanating from motor
vehicles. The Government will continue to tighten the emission standard in step with other developed countries such as the European Union.
(sections 18 to 23)
provides for a statutory right of appeal
in respect of certain decisions or requirements
of the Authority to ensure that the provisions
of the Ordinance are applied in a fair and
reasonable manner. An appeal may be lodged
against any decision or requirement of the
Authority relating to:
Board may confirm, reverse or vary the decision
or requirement of the Authority and may
also make an award of costs involved in
the appeal as appropriate. In the case of
appeals against Noise Abatement Notices,
the Notice to which the appeal relates will
normally be suspended in its operation until
such time as the appeal is disposed of.
Noise Permits for the carrying out
of percussive piling;
Abatement Notices; and
in connection with the testing of
The Chairman of the Appeal Board and the persons of the panel are appointed by Chief executive of HKSAR. Under the Noise Control Ordinance, the Appeal Board shall, however, not at any time consist of a majority of persons who are public officers.
who commits an offence under the Ordinance
shall be liable to the following maximum
|Enforcement Activities and Prosecution Statistics under Noise Control Ordinance
||The following graphs give some statistics on the enforcement of the Noise Control Ordinance :
|Noise complaints by the public
The following graph shows the nature of noise complaints from 1 January 2002 to 31 December 2002: