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Residents in Cliffe, Gravesend and across north Kent bombarded by pile-driving noise from London Gateway

Residents across the north Kent peninsula have described being psychologically worn down by the sound of industrial pile-driving at the London Gateway port.

People in Cliffe spoke out this week as their community was bombarded by the sound of construction work from the Essex coast, where a fourth berth is being built at the deep sea port; with the noise carrying on until 11pm on Wednesday and 10.30pm on Thursday this week.

"Sounds like they're making Jumanji 3 out there," said Rob Parker who lives in Cooling Road. "Feel like I'm going to look out the window and see hordes of invading Vikings."

But while Rob and others were trying to raise spirits, many said the constant noise of intense hammering was having a debilitating effect, especially on families with young children.

"I literally can’t cope," said one social media post, while another added: "Maybe suggestions could be made to finish the banging earlier for our sanity?"

With piling work set to carry on at the site until May, residents will be clinging to the theory the noise is travelling further this week due to cold, still conditions.

But Craig Freeman from Swingate Avenue, said the constant thudding was becoming oppressive.

Craig Freeman has spoken about the impact of construction noise from the London Gateway on people in Cliffe
Craig Freeman has spoken about the impact of construction noise from the London Gateway on people in Cliffe

"It's really really bad," said the dad of four. "It's an unusual noise for the kids to be hearing, and not many people are used to having something in their life like that. I've worked in the construction industry and I've been near pile driving before, but to hear it travel across the water that far and that loud is different.

"It's like a big bass drum – it sounds like that constantly. My little boy is four and the noise is waking him up and then it takes two hours for him to go back to sleep.

"It's so annoying. On Wednesday it started 8.30am to 11pm, and last night it was three hours, that started 7.30pm to 10.30pm."

And Craig said the noise had been just as prominent this morning, on the school-run, with the sound even being directed along streets, bouncing off buildings.

"You couldn't hear people speak on the other side of the road," he added. "When you're crossing roads and speaking to the kids you're having to raise your voice over the noise in the background."

The London Gateway. Picture: Mick Wenban
The London Gateway. Picture: Mick Wenban

"When it's going down the channel of houses, it's echoing between both sides of the street. You think it's coming from one way, but it's coming from the other. It's really disorientating.

"If it was just once or the occasional noise it wouldn't be so bad, but it's been going on for two and a half days – it's affecting people and they're getting frustrated.

"A lot of people are talking about their pets being affected. You hear all the dogs barking because of it."

Meanwhile there were other reports of noise being heard in Gravesend, Higham, Lower Stoke, Frindsbury, Strood, and all the way along the Thames estuary shore of the Isle of Grain.

Strood Rural Cllr Gary Etheridge said he had received a number of calls from residents complaining about the issue, and that Thurrock Council should have consulted with neighbouring authorities about the work.

Cllr Gary Etheridge
Cllr Gary Etheridge

And he said the impact bordered on "psychological warfare" for those affected.

"It's not far from that at all to be honest," he said. "Why should people have to put up with it?

"I've seen screenshots from people recording the noise levels at 90 decibels, which is way above the legal limit. It's keeping people awake.What people also forget about is some people are working shifts – what about those coming home from working nights? It's affecting people all the way from Gravesend to the far end of the Peninsula."

Ian Gilmore, Head of Regulatory and Environmental Services at Medway Council, said: "We are looking into the concerns raised by residents and we are liaising with Thurrock Council to see if there is anything that can be done to limit the impact of the works.

"We would encourage residents to continue reporting noise complaints to us, through our website - medway.gov.uk/reportnoise."

"Sounds like they're making Jumanji 3 out there. Feel like I'm going to look out the window and see hordes of invading Vikings."

A spokesman for DP World said the company was investing £350m in the new berth at its London Gateway logistics hub, which would "boost the local economy, bolster supply chain resilience and increase capacity to accommodate the world’s largest vessels."

He added: "In order to control and mitigate the impact that the work may cause, a Section 61 consent has been obtained from Thurrock Borough Council, which limits the airborne noise levels at the nearest noise sensitive receptors.

"Construction will be continuously monitored to ensure all works are within the permitted noise thresholds throughout the duration of the piling period.

"In addition, we are undertaking a number of procedural and technical measures to minimise and mitigate the impact of the works. These include ensuring that:

  • Marine pile driving will not take place between 23.00hrs and 07.00hrs.
  • Percussive marine piling will not take place for more than 6 hours within a given day (24-hour period).
  • A hydraulic hammer instead of a diesel hammer is being used.

"The construction is scheduled to be completed by Q2 2024, with the main piling works due to finish by May 2023.

DP World said construction commenced on November 29, though impact hammering didn’t start until December 1.

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