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What is Section 61?

By Adam Martin, Director at Nova Acoustics

Section 61 refers to a specific provision within the Control of Pollution Act 1974 in the United Kingdom. This section pertains to the control of noise pollution from construction and demolition sites.

Under Section 61 of the Control of Pollution Act 1974, local authorities have the power to take action against noise nuisances arising from construction or demolition activities. The section provides a framework for regulating and controlling noise emissions from these sites to protect the well-being of nearby residents and the surrounding environment.

Key points of Section 61 include:

  • Nuisance Assessment: The local authority can assess whether noise from a construction or demolition site constitutes a statutory nuisance. Factors such as the volume, duration, and time of occurrence of the noise are considered in this assessment.
  • Abatement Notices: If a local authority determines that a statutory noise nuisance exists, they can issue an abatement notice to the responsible party. The notice specifies the measures that must be taken to mitigate or eliminate the noise nuisance.
  • Compliance Period: The abatement notice sets a specific period within which the required actions must be carried out to reduce the noise nuisance. The timeframe is determined based on the circumstances and nature of the noise source.
  • Offenses and Penalties: Failure to comply with an abatement notice is considered an offense under Section 61. The Act stipulates penalties and potential legal consequences for non-compliance.

Section 61 of the Code of Practice for Construction Sites (CoPA) outlines the procedure for obtaining prior consent from the local authority before commencing construction work.

This consent agreement is established between the developer/contractor and the local authority specifically regarding the noise generated by the construction site. Consent is granted based on the detailed information provided in the application. As long as the construction site operates according to the application’s specifications, the local authority cannot issue a Section 60 notice.

Although a Section 61 application under CoPA requires only a minimal amount of information, some local authorities may require varying levels of detail. This often means that the application process needs to be initiated two to three months before the commencement of the works. The local authority has a maximum period of 28 days to make a decision on the application.

CoPA effectively obligates developers to minimize noise levels to acceptable standards whenever feasible. Determining acceptable noise levels should take into account the pre-existing noise levels in the area prior to construction and how the work is being carried out. The former necessitates early monitoring of noise levels on and around the construction site, while the latter involves considering the concept of “best practicable means,” which takes into account local conditions, current technical knowledge, and financial implications, among other factors.



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