Pollution Control - Construction information

Information and Advice

Logo of Harborough District Council

Construction sites are often located near to existing residential developments and may give rise to complaints relating from noise and dust and other nuisance.

A certain amount of noise is inherent in most types of construction, demolition and road works which can rarely be completely prevented. Construction site managers should operate their sites to ensure minimum disruption to local residents.

The main legislation covering construction sites includes the Control of Pollution Act 1974 which covers noise and vibration and the Environmental Protection Act 1990 which covers smoke and dust emissions.


Under the Control of Pollution Act 1974, the local authority can serve a notice imposing requirements as to the way works are carried out on site. Generally the notice may impose restrictions and conditions on the working hours, permitted noise levels, method of work and the type of equipment used on site.

Where there is the potential to cause noise nuisance, contractors are expected to adhere to the following hours of work:

 Monday to Friday  0800 to 1800
 Saturday  0800 to 1300
Sundays and Bank Holidays: No working on noisy activities 

In certain circumstances the local authority may give permission to works outside of these hours. However, the site operator must demonstrate that the works could not be undertaken at any other time and the method of operation and the plant used would ensure that the noise impact is kept to a minimum.

There may, however be certain types of construction work which must be undertaken outside these hours. An example might be works to railways or busy roads which could not be undertaken during the day.

In these instances every attempt will be made to ensure that disturbance is kept to a minimum. Emergency works to gas or water supplies, for example, may also be carried out at short notice and this may be at night-time.


Smoke and Dust.

The burning of waste on a demolition or building site, which qualifies as trade waste, is an offence. Any business doing so is potentially committing three separate offences. If you own or operate a business you must ensure that are fulfilling your 'Duty of Care'  in that you are disposing of your waste in the correct manner. This is a legal requirement under S.34 of the Environmental Protection Act.  If you have any further queries please contact the Environment Agency.

The emission of "dark smoke" from a bonfire on a demolition or building site is an offence under the Clean Air Act 1993. If on offence is witnessed by an officer, action will be instigated to require the cessation of burning and, if appropriate, to instigate legal proceedings. Even if the smoke is not "dark smoke", the bonfire can still cause a nuisance from smoke, smell or ash and the Council has legal powers to stop, or prevent future bonfires, if a nuisance occurs. Bonfires should be avoided wherever possible and if they are necessary they should be extinguished at the end of the working day.

Dust can become a problem, especially in dry weather and all reasonable steps should be taken to avoid it. This may include damping down sand, aggregate or dusty concrete surfaces with water sprays when conditions become dry.