CONTROL OF NOISE ON CONSTRUCTION SITES
When it comes to construction and demolition, powers to restrict working hours are generally used in preference to statutory nuisance abatement notices. The “Section 60” powers contained in the Control of Pollution Act 1974 involve a notice being served on the person carrying out the works. The notice may specify requirements as to the way in which the works are carried out – most commonly specifying the permitted hours for noisy works to take place. Notices can also contain a number of other conditions relating to the way that particular construction activities (such as piling or deliveries) take place.
This section applies to works including (amongst other activities):
(a) the erection, construction or repair of buildings, structures or roads;
(b) road building activities; and
(c) Demolition or dredging.
It is not generally used to control noise from DIY activities in a residential setting.
Most local authorities will permit daytime working; and will typically limit noisy works to between the hours of 8am and 6pm Monday-Friday, 8am-2pm Saturday with no noisy works permitted on Sundays and Bank Holidays. These hours may not be set in stone though and evening and weekend works may be permitted in certain circumstances (e.g. where works take place next to schools).
People often make the mistake of assuming that working hours are enshrined in law. You should note that the restrictions only apply after the notice has been served by the local authority. Whilst service is discretionary, little or no evidence is required for the local authority to serve section 60 notice and many do routinely. Others prefer to establish a dialogue with the construction company first. They may initially visit the site or contact the person carrying out the works to discuss the issue and may wish to resolve the matter informally. Failure to comply with any requirement of a s.60 notice without reasonable excuse is an offence.
In some cases, usually involving major projects, companies may apply to the local authority for consent to carry out works with proposed steps (or working conditions). This process is usually carried out in advance of the project commencing.