Section 61 of the Control of Pollution Act 1974
What is a Section 61 consent?
This is where a building contractor or representative thereof applies to us for a prior consent for works under Section 61 of the Control of Pollution Act 1974. The application details how noise is to be managed on-site. The underlying principle is that Best Practicable Means (BPM) is being adopted. This has a legal definition but in summary requires the person/s issued with the consent to minimise noise and vibration resulting from their operations and to do so through the appropriate selection of plant, construction methods and programming.
What are the specific requirements on the contractor under the Section 61 consent?
At the planning stages of the construction programme and the setting up of the site, the contractor needs to demonstrate that the impact of noise and vibration has been properly considered when choosing plant and equipment and also, where possible, in the layout of the site and the scheduling of works. To this end the consent identifies methods of work and noise reducing measures required to minimise the noise impact.
As part of the application the contractor has to provide predicted noise levels at affected residential premises over the applied project period. These predicted noise levels are calculated on the basis of the equipment being used, at any part of the project programme and the length of time the equipment is used during any given period. By issuing the consent, we are accepting the levels provided, on the basis that BPM have been adopted within the calculated figures.
The contractor is required to undertake noise monitoring for the duration of the works and where identified as necessary, vibration monitoring. This monitoring is compared against the predicted levels and where it exceeds these levels by more than 3dB(A) at any day or night period, the contractor is required to review the works and where necessary take corrective action to reduce the noise levels for future day or night time periods.
The noise monitoring is also used to monitor exceedances of noise. The results of any noise and vibration monitoring results during the progress of the project are required to be submitted to us for assessment.
The contractor / promoter is required to provide information to local residents in the form of a meeting or drop in centre, prior to the works, so adequate details of the programme are given. Throughout the project, where works are planned at night, letter drops must be provided with the option of additional drop in centres and / or meetings. The communication shall provide a name and telephone number for a main contact for the works.
The contractor / promoter is responsible for responding to complaints within an adequate time-frame and where appropriate providing details of corrective action taken. Complaints shall be reported to us within 24 hours and within 5 days a report provided detailing the results of the investigation, action taken and information provided to the complainant.
Hours of working
In general the normal working hours are Monday to Friday 8am–6pm, Saturday 8am–1pm. Works outside of these hours are only agreed if there are health and safety and operational constraints and clear justification is provided.
There are regular meetings and correspondence between us and the contractor to monitor the progress of the works, to consider any concerns or complaints raised by us and to review noise monitoring results.
What if the contractor changes the work programme. Is this allowed?
Generally a section 61 consent is issued for a 6 month period and with the additional application period it will be more than 7 months before the consent expires. During this time, particularly where the work relies on railway possessions or scheduling works around busy road intersections, changes may be required to the work programme. The consent allows the contractor to apply for a dispensation to include these changes.
The dispensation is required at least 14 days in advance of the proposed works. The contractor shall include details of how residents likely to be affected by the works will be advised. There also needs to be reasons given as to why the works cannot be carried out within the terms of the consent.
Can we withhold issuing a Section 61 consent?
We have the right to determine an application from a contractor within 28 days and there is a right of appeal for the contractor if the Council withhold issuing a consent. We therefore have to have grounds, that the level of information provided is not sufficient, before a decision is made to withhold a consent. It should also be noted that we can add conditions to the consent, where any additional requirements deemed necessary are added. Contractors are encouraged to submit the application in draft form in good time before the works start, so where necessary and in dialogue with us, appropriate changes can be made before the final application is submitted and consent granted.