ACT News

Mandalay Bus forced to turn it down as strict noise restrictions bite

The manager of popular local business The Mandalay bus say the heart and soul of their business is under threat from strict noise restrictions, after they received a noise warning from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in December.

The famous take-away joint, known for their Burmese-inspired fare, draws late night crowds with their hip-hop music and vibrant atmosphere.

Manager Stewart Kyaw Thaung said the EPA warning had been issued as a result of a complaint made against the business on November 27 from a resident three blocks away.

The letter said mandated noise levels for residential areas between Monday to Saturday were 45 decibels for daytime or 35 decibels from 10pm and "excessive noise is a minor environmental offence" came with penalties.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr said he understood the Mandalay was operating within noise regulations and could continue running its business. 

Mr Kyaw Thaung said that while Mandalay management had met with the agency and were cooperating to work out a solution, he feared turning the music down could ruin their signature vibe.

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"[Without the music] it would not be as good an experience it would not be the Mandalay bus experience.

"[Music] gives it a nice vibe, and makes it a place to chill out and relax. For us working in the bus as well, we love having the music playing, it makes the time pass," Mr Kyaw Thaung said.

Mr Kyaw Thaung said the EPA had been very helpful and since the letter they are proceeding with caution.

"There have been no further complaints since December so it looks like we are doing alright. We try to keep it down to a nice level but it sometimes gets turned up," Mr Kyaw Thaung said.

Molonglo Group events manager and cultural coordinator David Caffery, responsible for events in the New Acton precinct, has previously criticised the strict noise restrictions in residential areas after their summer jazz program came under treat.

The New Acton precinct's Facebook group has enthusiastically taken up the Mandalay Bus' cause, calling for the restrictions to be overhauled.

"Our sound laws kill cultural development. Let's change them, we're ready to grow, not shrink," the post read.

The post argued it would be "impossible" for the Mandalay bus to continue to operate under the mandated levels.

"35 decibels is less than a whisper. It's actually less than a whisper. The whole city is silenced," it said.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr said he had asked Access Canberra to assess current regulations and suggest improvements.

"Areas like Braddon and New Acton are vibrant urban hubs. It is entirely reasonable that these areas will not be as quiet as our outer suburbs – and I don't think this would come as a surprise to anyone," he said.

"Lively areas like these are critical to the success of our urban renewal and it is important that we have regulations that keep up."

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