To prevent, minimise and resolve environmental noise problems through intervention in the planning process, implementation of noise abatement measures and enforcement of the Noise Control Ordinance.
Released A Draft Comprehensive Plan to Tackle Road Traffic Noise in Hong Kong (the Draft) for public consultation.
Began investigating new designs for low noise road surfacing materials, barriers and joints at flyovers, and the feasibility of imposing noise controls on in-use vehicles, to support proposals in the Draft.
Completed retrofitting noise barriers at two road sections and low-noise material resurfacing on 30 road sections.
Introduced a sound effect to the 3-D noise modelling tool and used it for the first time during a public consultation on a noise barrier in Sha Tin.
The cityscape of Hong Kong is an unusual and challenging environment for controlling noise. In many neighbourhoods, residential, commercial and industrial premises are mixed together without clear divisions. While the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) has had success in controlling noise from stationary sources such as air-conditioners, traffic-related noise in existing urban areas remains a major problem. Heavy vehicles often have to travel near homes, schools and other sensitive receivers, even in the middle of the night. As a result, more than 1.1 million people in Hong Kong are affected by excessive traffic noise (above 70 dB(A)).

This unacceptable noise exposure has attracted numerous complaints from the public and demands from District Councillors and legislators that the problem be mitigated. The EPD has made road traffic noise a major focus of our noise programme for some years. In 2000 we unveiled measures to lower noise from existing roads through technical and management means. It was a step in the right direction, although we soon realised a more comprehensive approach was needed. So in 2005 we unveiled a strategy that pulled together the various strands of road traffic noise control and mapped out new directions. This was fleshed out in 2006 with concrete plans and an on-going consultation with the community on how to make Hong Kong's road traffic noise more tolerable.
More than one million people in Hong Kong are affected by excessive traffic noise.
The EPD must deal with two tiers of road traffic noise: new roads and existing roads. For new roads, we have been providing input on planning and alignment for many years, including identifying areas suitable for road barriers and low noise road surfaces where necessary. Since 1990 $1.8 billion has been spent on road barriers, and low noise road surfaces have become the standard for new high-speed roads. We have also tightened noise standards for vehicles of first registration. The combination of these efforts has helped to benefit some 254 000 people from road traffic noise.
The Deep Bay Link is paved with a low noise road surface.
However, traffic noise from existing roads is a more complex and serious problem. In recent years we have aggressively investigated the feasibility of retrofitting these roads with barriers or low noise road surfaces. In 2001 we began a programme to retrofit barriers on some 30 road sections and a trial to pave low noise road surfacing materials on 72 local roads. By the end of 2006, three barriers were completed or under construction, funding had been secured for 32 other barrier projects and 30 road sections had been laid with low noise road surfacing materials (see box on Retrofitting Programme for Existing Roads).
Noise barriers were retrofitted on the Fanling (left) and Sheung Shui (right) sections of Fanling Highway in 2006.
The strategy announced in 2005 is intended to provide a more comprehensive approach to reduce noise on the roads. While we will continue to emphasise noise prevention through planning and the environmental impact assessment process, we will also step up our efforts in other areas. We will seek to expand the use of barriers and low noise road surfaces and find new technological solutions for noise control. Underscoring these efforts is a determination to engage the public in helping us to address the problem of traffic noise.
A Draft Comprehensive Plan to Tackle Road Traffic Noise in Hong Kong.
Trial use of a low noise road surface on Chiu Shun Road.
The 2005 strategy was an outline of our goals. In July 2006 we announced concrete measures for achieving those goals in A Draft Comprehensive Plan to Tackle Road Traffic Noise in Hong Kong. The key word is draft, to emphasise that we remain open to new ideas and developments that will help us to reduce road traffic noise.

For low noise road surfaces, we are studying how to expand their use in Hong Kong. We already know from our initial trials that low noise road surfacing materials may be able to withstand longer periods of heavy traffic conditions than assumed. As a result, some 20 additional roads are now being considered for re-surfacing. At the same time a study to develop a durable low-noise material suitable for wider application in Hong Kong has been commissioned (currently we use surfaces developed overseas). The study is being carried out by a world-renowned expert from Sweden, and is expected to be completed by the end of 2007.

For road barriers, we commissioned a study in late 2006 to investigate overseas barrier designs with a view to coming up with a design that would be most suitable for Hong Kong roads, while providing optimal noise protection and a pleasant appearance. We have also begun exploring overseas designs for road joints at flyovers, which are a source of noise complaints, particularly at night.
Examples of overseas noise barriers
Architectural noise barrier (Australia).
Solar panel noise barrier (Netherlands).
Green barrier (Germany).
Vehicles themselves can emit less noise if they are equipped with appropriate technologies, well maintained and driven properly, so the EPD is encouraging commercial operators, including bus franchises, to take responsibility and reduce noise from their vehicles. Moreover, we began a study in late 2006 into the practices in overseas countries and the feasibility of imposing controls on noise from in-use vehicles.

Traffic noise is expected to worsen over the next ten years due to increased traffic, especially in the early morning hours and at night. A study was commissioned in late 2006 to review the practices overseas in respect of noise standards and to keep abreast of international developments. We will also review the Professional Practice Note on Road Traffic Noise, which is used by architects, engineers and town planners in designing buildings and new roads, to provide more protection against traffic noise to residents of new buildings.
Tung Chung New Town ?a good example of land use planning.
The Government can do its bit to control noise through technical measures or new laws or standards. However, other sectors of the community also have responsibilities. Drivers and commercial operators need to recognise that their actions create traffic noise and they should therefore keep vehicles maintained and reduce noisy driving practices, such as braking hard in quiet streets.

There is also a growing community expectation that prospective property buyers should be informed about the noise situation before they make a purchase. Included in the Draft Plan is a proposal to promote disclosure of noise information in sales brochures. An interdepartmental working group has been formed to investigate this idea.

The wider public can also contribute to traffic noise control by joining in the debate. A new 3-D modelling tool lets people see who is affected by noise in new projects and hear the volume, which can be important when seeking support for new road barriers (see box on Road Traffic Noise in 3-D at Sha Tin). The public has also been invited to comment on the Draft Plan. A three-and-half-month public consultation was held in which the EPD organised seminars to gather views and explain our proposals, distributed more than 400 copies of the plan to key stakeholders and uploaded it onto the Internet. Although that consultation formally ended in November 2006, by which time more than 130 submissions had been received, we are continuing to accept and seek out views and we remain open to new suggestions for tackling noise. For, while the EPD is making vigorous efforts to reduce existing traffic noise, we cannot work in a vacuum. A dialogue with the community is essential to ensure everyone understands the problem of noise in Hong Kong and supports measures to control it.
EPD officers explain the Draft Comprehensive Plan to Tackle Road Traffic Noise in Hong Kong in a seminar.
Enjoying the calmness at home.
Conduct studies and evaluate the proposed measures of A Draft Comprehensive Plan to Tackle Road Traffic Noise in Hong Kong.
Continue to promote research and development on various noise reduction measures including low-noise road surface materials and noise barrier designs for better management of the noise environment.