Siren frustrates locked-down NewQuay residents

Siren frustrates locked-down NewQuay residents

By David Schout

A loud and piercing siren has frustrated apartment-bound NewQuay residents in recent months, and it appears little can be done to stop it.

The siren, which sounds most days from a port facility at Victoria Dock for up to an hour at a time, has impacted productivity and even mental health during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic according to residents.

In an email from the Port of Melbourne seen by Docklands News, the warning siren comes from Qube, a logistics provider located at Victoria Dock on the other side of the Bolte Bridge.

The loud ringing is a safety requirement when trains either enter or depart the port area, and must be clearly audible over the noise of machinery and other operations.

On average it rings for 30 minutes, although residents reported it was often longer.

Marina Tower resident Nicolle Lin said the siren had been dispiriting in recent months, and increasingly difficult to deal with while working from home.

“It’s really annoying and can give me headaches,” she said.

“I’m an accountant so do a lot of number-crunching and looking at spreadsheets, so the siren can be really distracting. It has been challenging during the pandemic lockdown and it’s detrimental to our mental health.”

Fellow Marina Tower resident Jing Tan’s apartment overlooks Ron Barassi Snr Park and faces directly towards the siren’s source.

She said it had become more apparent earlier this year.

“It became most noticeable around the end of March, which coincided with the COVID-19 restrictions,” she said.

“I have meetings during the day - it’s just really annoying. Especially on days you’re really busy.”

Ms Tan said while she had noticed the siren in previous years, it was never as loud.

She had been in contact with numerous authorities about the issue, including the Port of Melbourne, the City of Melbourne and the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).

A recent response suggested to her that, despite the impact it was having on the lives of locals, the siren was “there to stay”.

“The Port of Melbourne acknowledges that the sirens can be heard from parts of Docklands,” a representative from the Port of Melbourne said. “However, they are operating within permitted daytime working hours, and are necessary to protect the safety of workers on site.”

The representative also said that different operating conditions during COVID-19 could be contributing to a louder-than-usual experience for residents.

“Anecdotally, there is some evidence that the reduced traffic noise and reduced general background noise from industry shutting down has also made other noises more noticeable than usual.”

One long-term Docklands local, responding to a Facebook post about the noise earlier this year said it had been a source of frustration for almost two decades.

“It’s been annoying residents since 2001,” it said. “Get used to it, it’s not going away anytime soon, which really is ridiculous in this day and age.”

Another response pointed to the long-term nature of the issue: “I complained back six years ago, it went quiet for a while but it’s back with a vengeance now,” it read.

According to Ms Tan the EPA would investigate after COVID restrictions eased, when it could accurately capture the issue •

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