These noisy things are one of the worst extremes of modernity. What can they do that a good old-fashioned straw broom cannot do twice as fast? I know of nothing
A push by eastern suburbs residents to ban leaf blowers is likely to fail after Waverley Council distanced itself from their campaign and one councillor called the idea “nanny state gone mad”.
The community-based Bondi Beach Precinct asked the council to consider banning gas-powered leaf blowers, which it said inflicted psychological and health damage on residents forced to stay at home because of COVID-19 restrictions.
A precinct spokeswoman said noisy leaf blowers were a significant community concern. “With current lockdown orders in place and many residents in our high-density area spending more time indoors,” she said.
“The intrusive and environmentally unfriendly leaf blowers are a significant irritant, so we feel this conversation is worth having with the aim of transitioning to better alternatives.”
The council voted in favour of a motion from Greens councillor Dominic Wy Kanak to “liaise” with the precinct about the adverse effects of leaf blowers including excessive noise and low frequency vibrations.
But Waverley’s Labor mayor Paula Masselos said the council had not called for a ban on the use of leaf blowers. She said she supported the motion because “it is our role as elected officials to listen to concerns of residents when raised with council”.
The precinct passed its own motion detailing the impact of leaf blowers, which also said residents were disturbed by leaf blowers up to 15 times a day “often at extremely disturbing noise levels”.
“Most residents agree that gas powered leaf blowers achieve nothing,” the motion said. “One operator blows it from one property to the next or onto the road, and another operator comes along and blows it right back.”
The precinct’s resolution suggested gardeners could use electric versions of most power tools or “old school manual gardening methods”.
“Regardless of the alleged productivity loss, the psychological, environmental and economic arguments for banning gas powered leaf blowers are so overwhelming,” it said.
Neighbouring Woollahra Municipal Council received six complaints about leaf blowers in the past year, while Ku-ring-gai Council on Sydney’s north shore had 13 complaints.
A Woollahra Council spokesman said no council had the power to ban or restrict the use of leaf blowers, but legislation limited when they could be used.
“We use both petrol and battery-operated leaf blowers,” he said. “As battery-operated blowers are quieter, our staff use these versions in high-density residential areas and business centres.”
Bondi Beach landscape gardener Wojtek Skibowski said he was surprised by the campaign to ban gas-powered leaf blowers given other equipment such as lawn mowers and whipper snippers made a similar level of noise. “To be honest, in six years I’ve never heard anyone complain,” he said.
Mr Skibowski also uses electric leaf blowers but he said they were not as efficient. He said leaf blowers were used for more than just getting rid of fallen leaves.
“I also use it for blowing dust and rubbish that’s left over,” he said. “To do a clean up job, it’s almost impossible without a leaf blower.”