Noise from construction and demolition sites

Construction and demolition works are usually noisy and can take place in areas that are normally quiet. Find out how to prevent and report instances of construction noise pollution.

Common complaints about construction and demolition sites relate to the hours of working. Work should normally take place only between these hours: 

  • Monday - Friday: 8am - 6pm 
  • Saturday: 8am - 1pm 
  • Sunday and bank holidays: no work 

These recommended times may be extended to 7.30am if there are no noisy activities on Saturdays. Workers may arrive at site 30 minutes prior, but no noisy work should be done outside these times unless changed by prior agreement, and noise should be kept to a minimum in the first hour. Contractors should inform local residents prior to particularly noisy activities and provide contact details. 

Reporting noise problems

In the first instance, we advise that you inform the company directly to see if a resolution can be found and to give them an opportunity to address the issues and allow you to reach a compromise. Where this is not possible or it is ineffective contact us, and we will investigate. 

Contact us to report a noise problem.

Good practice guidelines for contractors

Construction and demolition work is usually noisy and, although the work may not last long, noise disturbance, dust nuisance and other issues may lead to problems for people who live and work near the site. 

It is in everyone’s interest to try to anticipate potential problems and plan ways to avoid them. Good public relations will help minimise complaints – keeping local residents and businesses informed about what is happening on the site will help. People are generally more tolerant if they know why the work is necessary; when it will start and finish each day; and how long it will take. 

Avoid the need to park on the street by providing onsite parking wherever possible, and keep the public footpaths and highways in a clean and tidy state. 

Noise issues

The law requires that Best Practical Means (BPM) must be used to minimise noise. Contractors can obtain guidance from British Standard 5228 – “Noise and Vibration Control on Construction and Open Sites”.


  • keep to the normal working hours detailed above 
  • give at least 48 hours notice to residents  
  • select the quietest suitable plant and equipment and keep it properly maintained and observe safe working practices.  
  • fixed items of construction plant should be electrically powered rather than diesel or petrol driven. Vehicles and mechanical plant should be fitted with effective exhaust silencers and when not in use should be shut down or throttled down to a minimum. Keep noisy plant and machinery as far as possible away from noise sensitive buildings 
  • do not use radios on the site where it could cause disturbance 

Working outside normal hours may be permitted under exceptional circumstances such as: 

emergency works 

  • work required for immediate Health and Safety reasons 
  • work which is likely to cause major disruption to traffic and where police/highways officers decide they should take place at night or over the weekend 

Written application should be made to the Council – it must be sent at least 14 days before the work is due to start. 


Do not light bonfires – waste from construction and demolition sites should not be burned on site. It should be disposed of at a licensed waste disposal site. ‘Exemptions to burn’ can be obtained from the Environment Agency but are very restrictive and do not provide immunity against enforcement action for nuisance or dark smoke offences. Complaints of smoke/odour nuisance will initiate an investigation from the Council. 

You should take all reasonably practicable steps to reduce nuisance caused by dust during demolition work. An adequate water supply may be needed for damping down and wheel washing equipment at the site entrances and exits; or screening may be required. Rubble chutes and skips must have close-fitting covers at the point of discharge to the skip to contain dust and debris. 


If there is evidence of vermin on the site, treat it before the demolition starts. This will stop the spread of rats/mice into the surrounding areas and prevent complaints. If there is a problem immediate treatment will be required. 

Health and safety

Sites must be surveyed for the presence of asbestos containing materials by a competent person prior to demolition. Strict laws cover working with and disposing of such material. The Health and Safety Executive is the enforcing authority for Health and Safety matters on these sites. 

Mobile Crushing Plant

If a mobile crushing plant is used, the operator of the machine must be permitted under the Pollution Prevention and Control Act 1999. The permit is issued by the local authority covering the area in which the machine is based but the council in the area it is to be used must also be notified. It must be operated to the conditions of the authorisation. 

There is however nothing to stop a person from carrying out quieter types of work (painting, decorating, etc.) past these hours, provided they do not make a noise which affects their neighbours. We will also give some leeway for domestic DIY activities during the evenings and weekends so long as they are infrequent and of short duration, but it is recommended that neighbours are informed before these noisy activities take place. 

Applying for a construction work permit

If you wish to apply for prior consent for construction work to cover noise emissions, please complete the relevant form: 

For all other former district areas please contact the Environment Health team.

The law

The council has extensive powers to control noise, smoke, dust and vermin from building sites under the Control of Pollution Act 1974; The Clean Air Act 1993; Environmental Protection Act 1990 and Prevention of Damage by Pests Act 1949. 

If informal action fails to solve problems, legal action can be taken to ensure the problem is abated. This can include prohibiting work, restricting certain activities, or controlling working hours. The main contractor is responsible for the activities of all sub-contractors on site. They must ensure that work is carried out in compliance with agreed guidelines on noise and dust and other matters. 

Further information 

Noise pollution

Light pollution

Odour pollution