Anger as Sick Kids builders drills hit 94 decibels

Bill Cook with residents Peter McClements, Ian Taylor and Tony Hay. Picture: Toby Williams

Bill Cook with residents Peter McClements, Ian Taylor and Tony Hay. Picture: Toby Williams

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NEIGHBOURS near the site of the new Sick Kids Hospital have told how they’ve been drowned out by flood prevention works.

Builders drilling just four metres from their Little France homes have hit noise levels as high as 94 decibels – the equivalent of a stereo at full blast – for the last three weeks.

Residents say they have suffered headaches, stress and tinnitus – while some have decided to flee while the work is carried out.

One family told how they had been forced to keep their five-year-old son Euan indoors because he suffers from a condition which makes him very sensitive to sound. Louise McLean, who also lives with husband Kevin and daughter Eilidh, seven, said: “What we have experienced is horrendous. My little boy has very sensitive ears and is currently being treated by the Sick Kids so it’s affecting him especially.

“They cannot go outside and are always standing with their hands over their ears. They are in tears and we have to shut all the windows and doors – they can’t get the fresh air or vitamin D so it’s not good for their health.”

The residents’ complaints have now forced contractors to bring in new tools which they insist will “have less of an impact”.

Health chiefs expect the new £150 million Sick Kids Hospital, next to the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, to be completed by 2017.

And while neighbours insisted the project had their full support, they hadn’t expected the noise to reach “unbearable levels”.

Martin Burne, 45, said his family had been forced to escape for a few days’ respite.

Mr Burne, who lives with wife Linda, 40, and their three children, three-year-old Oliver and one-year-old twins Samuel and Sebastian, said: “They will say this work has to be done because it’s for the Sick Kids and not one person is against building it, but what’s the damage to our children and ourselves?

“At one point it was 7.30am and we just had to get out. We didn’t even have time to wash the kids, we just got everything in the car and left and went over to Linda’s mum’s house – it was the last straw.”

Labour councillor for the Liberton/Gilmerton ward, Bill Cook, called on the NHS and contractors to be more considerate towards the neighbours.

Cllr Cook said: “Any reasonable person would find these noise levels unacceptable and something should really be done about it.”

Brian Currie, project director at NHS Lothian, said the new drilling method would help and that working hours would be restricted. He added: “NHS Lothian would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused.

“The noise levels have been monitored regularly by both NHS Lothian and the city council and, although loud, readings show that they are within allowable limits.”