Permitted hours of work

Construction and building sites can cause problems to local residents, so your local council's environmental health department has special powers to control noise, dust and burning on construction and demolition sites. Working hours can be restricted and conditions enforced on the machinery being used.

Recommended hours of work will normally be:
  • Monday to Friday: 8am to 6pm
  • Saturday: 8am to 1pm
  • Sunday and bank holidays: no working

If a company wishes to work outside of these hours (on a construction site) they may be required to submit an application for prior consent to the local council's Environmental Health department.

Noise

Noise from construction sites is controlled by the Control of Pollution Act 1974. Construction companies and contractors are required to take all reasonable steps to control noise.

Examples of noisy activities could include:
  • Hand Tools - Use of hammers, saws, etc should be restricted to the hours given above.
  • Power Tools - Normal hand-held tools power tools (drills, saws, sanders, etc) can cause a lot of noise and their use should be restricted to the hours given above.
  • Plant - This involves use of tools and equipment such as “Kango” hammers, pneumatic hammers or vibrators, cement mixers, large power saws and planers, compressors, generators, etc. Use of this more powerful type of equipment needs greater consideration, as it can be very noisy.
  • Erection and dismantling of Scaffolding - Can be a very noisy activity and should only be done within reasonable hours.
  • Deliveries of plant, equipment or materials - This can be noisy, especially if it involves use of hoists from lorries or tipper lorries. Early morning deliveries cause particular complaint.
  • The Party Wall - Work on the party wall between dwellings will give high levels of noise next door. This includes work such as hacking off plaster, chasing out, fixing wall plates, etc.

Dust

Dust from construction sites is controlled by the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and can often be minimised by:

  • Carefully siting transport routes.
  • Providing hard-surfaced roadways.
  • Imposing speed limits on site.
  • Damping stockpiles of materials and roadways with water.
  • Keeping roadways clear.
  • Adjusting working methods, for example, to minimise demolition or crushing dust.
  • Storing fine material under cover.

It is important to note that the environmental legislation controlling dust is for the protection of human health and environment in general. If dust only affects your property or possessions, environmental health will not be able to help.

Burning

It is an offence under Section II of the Clean Air Act 1993 to burn anything in industrial or trade premises which is likely to cause dark smoke. A person found guilty under this section can be liable to a fine on summary conviction not exceeding £20,000.

In addition, under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, Part III, nuisance legislation applies where a nuisance is defined as something which unreasonably interferes with someone else's enjoyment of their home or garden. If it is confirmed that a nuisance does exist, the local council is able to serve a legal document called an Abatement Notice on the person responsible, requiring that the nuisance is stopped. If the Abatement Notice is ignored, then any further nuisance will be an offence, which, upon conviction in the magistrates court, could result in fines of up to £20,000 and £2,000 for each day the offence continues.

The Environment Agency also have powers to deal with the burning of waste on trade premises. Under Part II of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, there is a duty of care concerning the disposal of trade waste. Section 33 of this act states that a person shall not dispose of waste in a manner likely to cause pollution of the environment or harm to human health. The maximum penalty under this section is £20,000. Any burning of waste is therefore an offence under this legislation. To make a complaint to the Environment Agency, please call the incident hotline (24 hour service) on 0800 80 70 60.

Exemptions from the Environment Agency powers relate to the burning of wood, bark and plant material at the site of production, provided fires do not cause persistent problems to neighbours. These fires still have to be registered with the Environment Agency and it is an offence not to do so. Action can still be taken by your local council under the Clean Air Act.

Contacts

If you are bothered by noise or dust which originates from a construction site, please contact your local council's environmental health department, using the links below:


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