This study was conducted by Herts Tools, plant hire specialists. If you’d like to use graphics or data from the study, please link to this page as the original source.
With recent reports suggesting that noise pollution, including noise from construction work, is the second-largest environmental threat to well-being, it’s essential that construction firms abide by noise guidelines to limit disruption – particularly in the areas worst hit.
To find the UK’s construction-related noise pollution hotspots, Herts Tools analysed the number of monthly Google searches for queries related to noisy construction work in different cities across the UK.
The data has revealed that London, Leeds and Huddersfield are the UK’s construction noise hotspots. Due to rapid urbanisation and extensive infrastructure projects, each city receives over 600 search queries related to construction noise per month – over 4 times that of searches in other areas of the UK.
This perhaps comes as no surprise considering annually, in London, there have been between 15,000 and 25,000 housing construction completions in the last 10 years. Similarly, Leeds has delivered 16,249 homes since 2018 and was responsible for 2.2% of England’s housing supply in 2021.
The findings revealed:
- Noise complaints rank the highest in London, Leeds, and Huddersfield with 600 monthly searches for queries such as “What time should neighbours stop building work” and “Is it illegal to start building work before 8 am”.
- Noise complaint searches for these cities were over 4 times that of searches in Blackpool and Wigan.
- The noise-averse may wish to avoid the north of the UK as a large number of northern cities had a high number of noise-related search queries.
- Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle followed London, Leeds and Huddersfield as the noisiest areas for construction. All of the cities have over 500 monthly noise complaint searches.
According to the latest noise complaint report, the average number of general noise complaints per 1000 people across all the London boroughs in 2021 was a huge 50.5. General noise complaints in the north were also high, 13.2 complaints were reported in Liverpool, followed by Leeds (9.3), Newcastle (9.2) and Manchester (8.7). In comparison, Birmingham received just 5.8; Devon, 5.1 and Bristol, 3.1.
Does your city rank?
What are the rules and regulations?
Building work in public areas and on construction sites in the UK must be in accordance with the 1974 Pollution Control Act. This act limits noisy work to between 8 am and 6 pm from Monday to Friday. This doesn’t mean that zero construction work can happen outside of this, but it must be work which is not noisy, for example preparing a site or tidying up after work.
The kind of work which is considered noisy and is, therefore, time-limited under these laws is usually any task involving the use of hand or power tools and the erection or dismantling of scaffolding or walls. These laws around building noise generally only apply to professional construction work.
What are the laws about building work on Saturdays and Sundays?
The rules around building work are different at the weekend, with greater limits on what work can take place. Generally, on a Saturday, building work can take place between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. However, there is some variation between different local authority areas, and it is important to check this with the Environmental Health department at the relevant council. The rules around working on a Sunday are generally more restrictive, with most areas prohibiting noisy work. This also usually applies to Bank Holidays.
Sometimes work can be done at the weekend and outside of the normal designated hours if there isn’t a viable alternative. Permission for this may be given when the work needs to be done on a very urgent or emergency basis, for example, to correct a problem that is disrupting the electrical or water supply to people’s homes. There may also be circumstances which make it impossible to do the work during normal working hours, for example, work on train tracks, which can often only be done at night when the trains aren’t running.
What can you do about noisy building work?
- Start by talking to the builders rather than making formal complaints. This gives construction workers a chance to correct any practices which are in breach of the rules or are causing significant disruption before any further action is taken.
- Contact organisations such as the Considerate Constructors Scheme, which are involved in ensuring high building standards, maintaining a positive image and reputation for the construction industry, and minimising the impact of building work on the public. Building sites, construction companies and suppliers are able to sign up for this scheme, which will then monitor their activity
- You can contact the site manager or the owner of the building company involved too. Details of this are usually displayed around the site.
- If nothing is done, you can report the incident to the council. If the complaint is found to be legitimate then the council can issue a noise control notice to the offenders, and if they continue not to comply, then a fine of up to £20,000 per offence can be imposed.