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New Local Venue Noise Survey “Could Be Used For Evil”

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Melbourne’s live music scene could take another hit from tougher noise restrictions as the state government launches a survey, calling for residents near popular entertainment strips to publicly air their grievances.

Fairfax Media reports, more than 50,000 Melbourne residents who live near music venues and business precincts, will be surveyed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) about the level of noise and the point at which it becomes annoying.

Specifically, explains the EPA’s Dan Keely, “more than a simple ‘annoyed or not annoyed’ answer, we want to know how loud noise is when it becomes unreasonable.” He says the survey will help assess whether the community is satisfied with the current noise laws.

Michelle Harrington, founder of St Kilda Live Music Community, is worried the process is “really imbalanced” and only offers a voice to those who have an issue with live music venues, and not for anyone to register their support. “It could very well be used for evil,” she added.

The survey asks residents to enter their home address and specify their noise complaints, the time of day when they occurred, the impact the noise had on them and what action they took. The survey asks questions like “what number from 0 to 10 best describes how much you are bothered, disturbed or annoyed by music noise from public entertainment venues” and “How often are you bothered, disturbed or annoyed by this noise.”

In an effort to undermine the “unbalanced” approach to the issue, the Save Live Australia’s Music organisation has urged its followers and live music advocates to also fill out the survey. “It would be an unjust process if a small number of complainers hijacked this survey and the outcomes were all about them,” reads the Facebook post.

In 2013 the EPA says it received more than 2100 noise complaints, plus locals councils and police have also fielded noise complaints. Live music venues including The Old Bar in Fitzroy and Pure Pop Records in St Kilda have come under fire over noise. The EPA said the feedback from the survey would be compared to noise levels measured in Fitzroy, Northcote and South Yarra, and used to gauge the community’s satisfaction with current noise pollution laws.

At the start of this year, Victorian Minister for Planning Matthew Guy announced an “Agent of Change Principle”, which would protect established live music venues from noise complaints issued by new residents. Despite his optimistic implementation timeframe of “six or seven weeks” nothing yet has resulted.

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