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Adelaide On The Defensive After Noise Restriction Uproar

Written by Greg Moskovitch on July 10, 2014

The Adelaide City Council have issued a response to the wave of online criticism directed towards their new noise restriction initiatives. Yesterday, Music Feeds reported on a vote taken by councillors Tuesday to introduce new noise pollution management procedures to “high risk” events.

According to a report published yesterday by The Advertiser, councillors voted in favour of new restrictions which would allow council members to force event organisers into installing special sound monitors that pull the plug on them if noise limits are exceeded, at the councillor’s discretion.

Many Adelaide residents responded unfavourably to the report, taking to social media to accuse the city council of imposing a “nanny state” and of killing the city’s live music scene. Some also questioned whether similar restrictions would be imposed on non-music events like the Clipsal 500.

“In response to the Noise Mitigation Standard Operating Procedures story: Council welcomes music festivals and events to the city and recognises the importance of them and the enjoyment they bring to many people,” the Adelaide City Council have now responded via their official Facebook page.

The council’s statement argues that all event organisers have a “responsibility” to ensure the noise caused by their event is minimised to accommodate the comfort of surrounding residents, “regardless of the type or scale of the event,” before downplaying the extent of the new restrictions.

“The revised Noise Mitigation Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for 2014-15 have been bench-marked against other venues and councils in Australia. Expert advice and recommendations were provided by an independent acoustic engineer,” they explain, adding that only events with a history of non-compliance will be forced to install noise limiters or have a bond applied of up to $5,000.

Furthermore, in response to a skeptical commenter, the council have stated that the noise limit under the new SOPs will remain at 110dB as it always has. Meanwhile, the SOPs will not apply to the Adelaide Oval or the Clipsal 500, as they are both managed under different legislation.

According to a report by Rip It Up, the Sound Pressure Level Limiters do not usually cut power when a noise limit is reached, but instead act as a sound cap, preventing volume from going beyond a set decibel limit. The SPLLs could in fact make life easier for organisers as noise levels will be kept within the level set in the event’s contract without the need for constant multi-point testing.

At the centre of many Adelaideans’ woes has been the impact the new SOPs could have on Soundwave, which will launch its new two-day format in Adelaide’s Bonython Park next year. Indeed, Soundwave was forced to forfeit a $10,000 bond this year after exceeding noise limits.

But according to Rip It Up, Adelaide City Council have laid out a four-strike policy, giving organisers a chance to rectify the situation before a bond is lost, whereby two strikes will see a promoter forfeit half of their bond, while four strikes will see the introduction of the Sound Pressure Level Limiters.

Soundwave promoter AJ Maddah‘s only response to Adelaide’s new noise SOPs has come via Twitter, where the touring mogul wrote somewhat cryptically, “Don’t think they have contemplated the possible outcome of 40,000 irate fans descending on Adelaide CBD. Sure wisdom will prevail.”

Gallery: Soundwave 2014 – Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne 28/02/2014

Photos by Nikki Williams

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