Over the past month, people in eastern China have repeatedly complained about noise pollution from a theme park’s sightseeing helicopter, but an apparent regulatory gap has left them more frustrated than ever, Sixth Tone’s sister publication The Paper reported Monday.
Though Yancheng Chunqiu Amusement Land in Changzhou, Jiangsu province, went through the proper approval channels for the helicopter attraction, securing permission from the local air control department, the noise the aircraft generates irritates nearby residents on a daily basis. When interviewed by local media, one resident described the helicopter’s roar as “like a tractor driving over my head.”
Opening its gates in 2010, Yancheng Chunqiu holds the highest classification for tourist attractions in China. The park is located near the Yancheng Remains, the ruins of an ancient town that dates from nearly 3,000 years ago.
The scenic helicopter flight was hatched in cooperation with a Shenzhen-based tourism investment company, and it officially launched last month. People pay 300 yuan ($50) each for a five-minute flight in a helicopter that can accommodate up to three passengers.
Before residents started complaining, the helicopter flew within its approved flight path. Facing backlash, however, the park changed the course to avoid residential areas and suspended operations from 12:30 to 1:30 in the afternoon and after 5:30 in the evening — when people are most likely to be at home.
Despite these changes, the complaints continued, and began accumulating at several government departments in Changzhou’s Wujin District, where the park is located. Now, officials from these departments seem to be at a loss for who should be responsible for tackling the problem.
Though China’s Law on the Prevention and Control of Environmental Noise Pollution stipulates that environmental protection departments should be responsible for managing and controlling “environmental noise pollution” — defined as that which exceeds limits set by the state and “impairs people’s daily life, work, and study” — within their administrative areas, it also says that public security, communications, railway, and civil aviation authorities should prevent noise pollution caused by traffic and social activities.
Helicopter noise, meanwhile, has yet to be classified under a particular regulatory authority — a conundrum Wujin District’s environmental protection bureau confirmed to The Paper. In addition, the bureau added that there is no standardized limit for helicopter noise: While construction sites cannot exceed 60 decibels, a helicopter flying at 30 meters can generate 100 decibels of noise.
Both the public security and urban management bureaus of Wujin told The Paper that helicopter noise did not fall under their areas of supervision.
A spokesman for the provincial-level civil aviation authority told The Paper that while there are laws in place for regulating noise from airports, there are currently no laws governing “temporary takeoff and landing points” such as helipads.
Zhou Jianguo, deputy dean of Nanjing University’s School of Government, told The Paper that while it’s unrealistic to expect one law to encompass every kind of noise pollution, this should not be taken as an excuse to pass the buck.
“When a new problem arises, a responsible government tries to resolve it by any means necessary,” Zhou said.
Editor: David Paulk.
(Header image: An aerial view of Yancheng Chunqiu Amusement Land in Changzhou, Jiangsu province, July 26, 2012. Zhang Yanlin/VCG)