Posted: 21st April 2021
Section 61 (S61) consents are awarded by local authorities for construction or demolition projects that generate noise and fall under Part III of the Control of Pollution Act 1974 (CoPA). As CoPA is primary legislation, it’s vital that applicants in the construction sector understand why S61 consents are necessary and how they may benefit from a construction noise assessment.
An S61 consent is entered into jointly by the contractor and the local authority, with consent granted according to the precise information provided in the application. Operating within the parameters set out in the application is essential to prevent the local authority from issuing an S60 notice, which imposes restrictions on contractors if construction or demolition noise exceeds acceptable levels.
The S61 process is advisable for construction sites where unusually high levels of noise are expected, or the site is in proximity to noise sensitive buildings, such as residential buildings, schools or care homes. CoPA requires that construction noise is kept to a minimum where possible, but the definition of ‘acceptable noise levels’ is open to debate. Therefore, it can be advantageous to establish a baseline noise level prior to construction commencing – and is often requested by the local authority when applying for S61. Once this is established, construction work can be planned to minimise the impact of noise within technical and financial constraints.
By applying for S61 consent, developers can enjoy several benefits:
S61 consent should provide a defence against a S60 notice being served, which would impose restrictions on hours of work, the use of certain machinery, and engineering methods. Timescales and budgets are more likely to be met, increasing productivity and profits.
Applying for S61 consent demonstrates a developer’s commitment to construction site noise monitoring and proves their commitment to minimising disruption for the community. Positively engaging with the local authority enables open and honest communication and reduces the likelihood of complaints from residents and businesses.
Avoidance Of Legal Action
Receiving an S60 notice is problematic for developers, not only because it imposes restrictions on construction work, but also because it is expensive and time-consuming to challenge. As Sections 60 and 61 fall under CoPA, the only route to overturning an S60 notice is via the court system.
A noise assessment prior to submitting an S61 application lets developers assess the likely impact of engineering work on noise levels in the locality. It also enables acoustics specialists to recommend Best Practicable Means mitigations to reduce noise pollution, advancing the likelihood of the local authority issuing the S61 consent.