Construction noise

Information about control of construction site noise. 

Building and demolition works are an essential part of modern life.  However the noise they create can be very intrusive to people living and working nearby. 

It is normally possible to overcome serious disturbance to residents through good site management and a little common sense. Occasionally, however, it is necessary to permit noisy work during antisocial hours with the aim of minimising the period of disruption.

Planning permissions sometimes include conditions intended to minimise impacts of construction noise.  Alternatively, Environmental Health Officers can intervene and deal with unacceptable construction noise under the Control of Pollution Act 1974 section 60.

If you are a resident concerned about construction noise, or an operator seeking advice to minimise noise problems, the following advice should be helpful.  You may wish to contact us for more specific advice.


Standard working hours

The council expects that potentially noisy construction and demolition activities will only be carried out during the following times:

  • 08.00 - 18.00 Monday to Friday
  • 08.00 - 13.00 on Saturdays
  • No work on Sundays or Bank Holidays

Some types of work, such as highway resurfacing, site clearance in a confined urban location, or railway engineering, can only be carried out at exceptionally quiet times.  This is not a licence to generate unnecessary noise.


Controlling construction noise

In addition to controlling working hours, there are some common steps for avoiding unnecessary construction noise:

  • Carry out site reconnaissance and identifying noise sensitivity before finalising working methods (developer / lead contractor)
  • Formally oblige subcontractors to take responsibility for controlling their noise
  • Choose and make provision in costings for working methods (such as piling) and equipment (such as silenced generators and pneumatic machinery) that reflect the noise sensitivity of the site
  • Phase demolition / construction work stages to minimise noise impacts
  • Make a nominated person responsible for monitoring noise control and liaising with residents
  • Inform residents in advance about particularly noisy works or any unavoidable works during antisocial hours

Noise limits

The council does not set standardised noise limits because there is so much variation in background levels from site to site. In noise sensitive locations (residential areas and near schools, hospitals, etc.) a high standard of design, specification and management of noise impacts will be expected. Specific noise limits may be set on a case-by-case basis.


Prior consent

There is a legal mechanism known as prior consent that enables developers and contractors to agree noise controls in advance of works starting. The prior consent procedure has advantages for difficult projects and normal works alike:

  • Showing that you have adopted a considered, cooperative and responsible approach
  • Enabling you to manage the construction noise concerns of local residents effectively
  • Building in costs for noise assessment and control
  • Preventing delays or further costs where the council finds it necessary to intervene formally for construction noise control during the works

Prior consent may be granted under the Control of Pollution Act 1974 section 61, subject to conditions. Noise from construction works carried out in accordance with a prior consent will not lead to enforcement. However it is an offence not to comply with the conditions imposed in a prior consent.

If you would like to know more about applying for a prior consent please contact us.


Guidance

The following documents provide useful advice to contractors about controlling construction noise:

  • British Standard BS 5228 ‘Noise and vibration control on construction and open sites’, particularly Parts 1, 2 and 4 – a good design and management guide for control of noise and vibration.
  • CIRIA Technical Note 138 ‘Planning to reduce noise exposure in construction’ – a good source of guidance on design and assessment for noise control (ISBN 0 86017 317 8).
  • CIRIA Practice Note SP38 ‘The use of screens to reduce noise from sites’ – concise practical advice on use of acoustic screens to reduce site noise exposure at sensitive locations (ISBN 0 86017 253 8).
  • CIRIA project report 70 ‘How much noise do you make? A guide to assessing and managing noise from construction sites’ – an informally written booklet providing accessible advice on the assessment and control of site noise (no ISBN – please refer to CIRIA, tel. 0207 549 3300).

Contractors opting not to apply for prior consent are advised to:

  • Design and manage demolition, site clearance and construction work to minimise adverse noise (and dust) impacts
  • Identify local noise-sensitive properties and supply them with advance warning including a contact number for registering complaints during works
  • Assess potential noise impacts and select noise control measures in accordance with British Standard BS5228 and the technical advice above

Last updated: 29 February 2016