In Taiwan, the number of noise complaint cases has increased gradually. From 2009-2013, the annual number of noise complaint cases rose from 50,800 to 80,587. Noise from construction projects significantly grew in recent years due to public works projects and home renovation and remodeling projects. As a result, noise from construction sites has become the leading source for noise complaints, accounting for over 30% of complaint cases, and is followed by noise from entertainment and business premises.
There are many factors leading to noise complaints. In urban areas, noise complaint cases are caused by high population density and mixed-use zoning policies that allow commercial premises, such as entertainment premises, retail shops, and offices, to be located adjacent to residential buildings. Commercial operations, recreational activities, and even neighbors generate noise, all of which have significant adverse effects on those living nearby. Facilities such as cooling towers, exhaust fans, and air conditioners are common sources of low frequency noise, which is the subject of repeat noise complaints. In addition, because of the fast expansion of cities and massive urban population growth, it is quite difficult to create a buffer zone around construction sites to reduce the impact of construction noise. For reasons such as these, noise continues to be a problem in Taiwan.
To maintain public health and a quiet environment and to enhance the living quality of the public, the Noise Control Act was promulgated on May 13, 1983. The Act designates the noise control competent authorities to delimit and announce noise control zones. The last revision to the Act was approved in 2008. Key points to the Act include the following: 1) the competent authorities will formally announce the control of noise generated by factory plants, entertainment premises, business premises, construction projects and facilities, public address (PA) systems, and other premises; 2) the noise emitted from aircraft and motor vehicles shall not exceed the control standards; 3) excessive noise caused by in-use motor vehicles, causing a disturbance of the peace, may be reported to the competent authorities by citizens (vehicles that have been reported to the competent authorities shall undergo testing at a designated location within a certain time period); and 4) regarding the sound emitted by in-use vehicles on land including expressways, freeways, railways, and mass rapid transit systems, the competent authorities may require the operating or management organization to execute a noise improvement plan if, upon examination, the competent authority finds that the sound level exceeds the land transportation system noise control standard.
Noise Control Standards were announced in 1992 and were implemented in accordance with the Noise Control Act. The standards stipulate the permitted sound level emitted by factory plants, entertainment premises, etc. Standards for low frequency noise on business and entertainment premises were first announced in 2005, as these two sites were the top two sources of noise complaints at the time. Following that, low frequency noise standards for factory plants and construction sites were enforced beginning in 2008 and 2009, respectively. In order to foster a peaceful living environment, the EPA announced revisions to the Noise Control Standards on August 5, 2013. The main amendments to the standards include stricter noise control values for construction projects, business premises, and facilities within noise control zones. Noise control standards for wind turbines were also added, along with relevant inspection and measurement parameters and other operational regulations.
For a better living environment, it is important to control the sources of noise in factories, business premises, construction sites, vehicles, airports, and so on. Not only does the EPA work to make stricter standards for all noise sources, but also the EPA limits noise production and propagation by providing counseling and guidance on noise improvement measures. At present, the EPA continues to revise and discuss the noise control standards on noise emitted by noise producers. Furthermore, the EPA constantly adds and revises enforcement rules and related regulations. Upon completion, these rules and regulations will provide a more comprehensive legal framework for noise control.
- Environmental Protection Administration, R.O.C.(Taiwan)