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Echo Barrier Blog

BLOG: Do local authorities have a duty of care through noisy construction projects?

Posted by Magnet on Jan 2, 2017 12:00:00 AM | Uncategorised

It is a fact that construction, demolition and building work is extremely noisy. It can also take place in areas where it is likely to cause a disturbance – such as quiet residential streets.

Having said that, builders are not given free rein to annoy people with noise at all times of the day and night. In fact, they have a very specific set of rules and guidelines that they must adhere to before they carry out any work, and these are monitored by the local authority which has a duty of care to keep the peace.

The council has powers to control noise and other nuisance from building sites caused by contractors and sub-contractors under both the Control of Pollution Act 1974 and the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
However it is in everyone's interests to try to foresee any problems that could arise and plan ways to avoid them. After all, there can be huge financial implications for a contractor undertaking noisy work if it is halted due to complaints.

It helps to consider ways to reduce noise at the planning stage. This might include purchasing or hiring “low noise” equipment or gen sets with good silencers fitted and looking at the options to reduce sound levels – such as through the use of acoustic barriers which cut down the noise travelling from the site and protect people living and working in the vicinity of the project.

Contractors should also obtain a copy of British Standard 5228, a guide containing information and procedures for noise control on construction and open sites. They should then follow certain protocols which include giving neighbours who may be affected by particular operations at least 48 hours notice of work and limit working hours, for example, to between 8am and 6pm, Monday to Friday and 8am to 1pm on Saturdays with no working on Sundays or bank holidays.

On top of this, contractors must use “best practice” to minimise noise. This includes selecting and properly maintaining the quietest suitable equipment and machinery (that include, for example, broadband reversing sounders), ensuring that all site staff are aware of the need to operate quietly, making sure all sub-contractors carry out their work in compliance with agreed guidelines on noise, dust and other matters and for long-term and complex projects, arranging for detailed liaison with the local community, through structured meetings with residents. They are also obliged to inform the council's environmental health department where their activities might be expected to cause disturbance.

If they don’t residents who are unhappy are well within their rights to complain.



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