NSW PORTS recorded an increase in night-time noise complaints from residents of suburbs surrounding Port Botany and the Botany Industrial Precinct, coinciding with the period of the COVID-19 lockdown. 

But one noise logger found there was actually a decrease in noise over the period. 

The main cause of concern was described as a “low-frequency throbbing or humming sound”. 

NSW Ports said there had been no material change in port operations that might explain the increase in noise complaints. 

As a result of residents’ concerns, NSW Ports engaged specialist acoustic consultants Wilkinson Murray to conduct a noise investigation. 

Over the course of the investigation, the noise logger on Foreshore Road recorded a “significant decrease in background and low frequency noise levels at the noise logger” when compared with 2020. The investigation said this was likely due to reduced activity at Sydney Airport and reduced road traffic volumes during the COVID-19 lockdown. 

The investigation found residences surrounding the port are impacted by a range of noses, including road traffic, construction works, industrial activities and port operations. 

It also found that the predominant source of low-frequency was ships berthed at Port Botany, with other sources of noise from the industrial precinct around the port, which have localised impacts.  

“Intermittent crashes and bangs are also audible at some residences, but not all are attributable to the port,” the report reads. 

Based on the findings of the investigation, Wilkinson Murray recommended that an additional permanent noise monitor be installed in the south-east residential area. It also recommended a further study be conducted to measure at-source noise levels of the ships at Port Botany.