Posted: 22nd December 2021

Construction noise assessments: the whys and hows

Construction can cause excessive noise and vibration, which may be problematic for local residents, businesses, or other noise-sensitive facilities (such as schools and hospitals). Noise can severely affect people’s quality of life.

While excessive vibration can cause disturbance to nearby residents, cause cosmetic cracking, or in extreme cases even pose dangers for vulnerable buildings or infrastructure.

A construction noise assessment will assess whether noise and vibration levels are likely to cause adverse impacts and, if necessary, prepare a mitigation scheme to limit these. Where adverse impacts are anticipated it is often appropriate to monitor noise and vibration during demolition and construction work, to determine whether it reaches a threshold that is likely to be disruptive or damaging. What do you need to consider when planning your building development?

Noise impact assessment: before construction commences

Before work commences on site, a construction noise assessment will usually be required as part of the Construction Management Plan. This is often a condition of the planning consent. 

The construction noise and vibration assessment should be carried out in accordance with BS 5228 (Code of practice for noise and vibration control on construction and open sites).

The exact process is dependent on the works being planned, location of the site, and noise sensitive properties in the vicinity, however it may include measuring existing background sound levels and preparing a computer model to determine the likely noise and vibration levels generated by construction work. It will also allow for mitigation measures to be devised, which will be included within the Construction Management Plan.

Crucially, noise and vibration impact assessments are required when submitting an application under Section 61 of the Control of Pollution Act 1974. With a Section 61 agreement in place this protects your development from legal action being taken against you by the Local Authority under Section 60 of the Control of Pollution Act 1974 or Section 80 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

What are the implications of a section 60 notice?

If construction begins without adequate planned mitigation to reduce the impact of construction noise, the Local Authority can serve a Section 60 notice on the site under the Control of Pollution Act 1974.

A Section 60 notice can impose certain conditions on a construction site, including:

  • A limitation on the operating hours.
  • A restriction on contractors’ working practices, such as the equipment or methodology they use.
  • A noise level limit which must not be breached.

The implications of a Section 60 notice can be serious for a developer working within a tight budget or timescale. Restrictions on operating hours or equipment can significantly lengthen the project duration and cost of the development, with delays likely. Failure to comply with a Section 60 notice can lead to prosecution.

As a Section 60 notice can be served without warning by the Local Authority it’s crucial to carry out an accurate construction noise and vibration assessment before work commences and to put in place appropriate noise reduction measures to reduce the impact of noise or vibration on noise-sensitive properties.

Maintaining good relations with the community

Taking proactive steps to reduce noise, vibration, and dust on a construction site will also foster positive relationships with the community and the Local Authority. 

Large construction sites do cause a degree of unavoidable upheaval, with noise just one area of concern for residents and businesses. Engaging with a professional acoustic expert will ensure that mitigation is designed correctly at an early stage. Undertaking temporary or permanent noise, vibration, and dust monitoring will ensure that any agreed limits are adhered to and in the worst case of complaints being received, these can be resolved amicably and quickly.

Contact ACA Acoustics for expert noise assessments

At ACA Acoustics, we conduct construction noise and vibration assessments for developers to support Section 61 application or to discharge planning conditions. We also provide short or long-term noise, vibration, and dust monitoring with real time alerts and results accessible on a web portal. For more information, please call us on 01793 766324 or send us a message.

Image source: Unsplash

Posted By:ACA Acoustics

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