- Clean Air Act 1993, Section 2 and 33
- The Clean Air (Emission of Dark Smoke) (Exemption) Regulations 1969
- The Control of Pollution Act 1974
- The Environmental Protection Act 1990 - Sections 79, 80 and 33, 34
- Environmental Protection (Duty of Care) Regulations 1991
- Waste Management Licensing Regulations 1994
It is an offence under the Clean Air Act 1993, Section 2, to emit dark smoke from industrial or trade premises. Demolition sites are included within the definition of industrial or trade premises. If dark smoke is emitted the occupier of the premises is liable, on conviction, to a fine not exceeding £5,000. For the purposes of a demolition contract you will normally be the "occupier" and will therefore be liable to the fine.
Considering the requirements of Clean Air Act and Waste Licensing requirements (detailed below) normally only timber, bark or plant matter resulting from demolition is conditionally exempted subject to the following provisions:
- That there is no other reasonable safe and practicable method of disposing of the matter.
- That the burning is carried out in such a manner as to minimise the emission of dark smoke.
- That the burning is carried out under direct and continuous supervision of the occupier of the premises concerned or the person authorised to act on his behalf.
It is also an offence under Section 33 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to deposit, keep, treat and dispose (e.g by burning) of waste material without a Waste Management Licence (Waste Management Licensing Regulations 1994). However, as already mentioned, the Regulations provide an exemption for demolition waste consisting of wood, bark or plant matter. Other materials are not exempted and therefore a licence would be required if such waste is burnt on site. If wood, bark or plant matter is to be burnt on site, it is important to ensure that this material does not contain or is contaminated by chemicals or other waste material, as again a license would be required. You should also be aware that waste produced from the construction of buildings/structures i.e not from demolition (including waste timber), is not exempt from licensing. Anyone convicted of an offence under the licensing requirement may potentially face a fine of up to £20,000/six months in prison.
Regardless of compliance with the requirements of the legislation detailed above, it is also an offence under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, to cause a statutory nuisance by emitting any smoke, which is prejudicial to health or a nuisance (Section 79) or to cause pollution to the environment or harm to human health (Section 33(1)c). A person who commits an offence shall be liable, on conviction, to a fine not exceeding £20,000.
You are also reminded that under the Clean Air Act 1993, Section 33, it is an offence for any person to burn insulation from cable with a view to recovering metal from the cable unless the process is authorised under Part 1 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. An offence of this nature is punishable, on summary conviction, by a fine not exceeding £5,000 (level 5).
In general it is an offence to cause a statutory nuisance from dust arising from the site, which is prejudicial to health or a nuisance. Best practicable means must be taken to prevent any statutory nuisance. Again an offence of this nature is punishable on summary conviction, by a fine not exceeding £20,000.
In addition the crushing, grinding or other size reduction of bricks, tiles or concrete using mobile plant, is a prescribed process as defined by the Environmental Protection Act 1990, and therefore requires an authorisation to operate.
Mobile plant should be authorised by the Local Authority in which area the company's principal office is located. The authorisation will contain detailed conditions primarily related to the control and minimisation of dust emissions from these processes; a breach of these conditions may lead to a maximum fine of £20,000.
The Contractor must employ the "best practicable means" as defined in the Control of Pollution Act, 1974 to minimise noise and vibration resulting from his operations on demolition sites and shall have regard to the British Standard BS 5228:1997 (Code of Practice for Noise and Vibration Control on Construction and Open Sites).
Under the Control of Pollution Act 1974, Section 61, the person intending to carry out the demolition works may apply in advance for Consent as to methods by which the works are to be carried out. Section 60 of the Act gives local authorities the power to serve a notice imposing requirements as to the way in which demolition works are to be carried out.
Duty of Care - Waste
Section 34 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 places a duty of care on producers, carriers and disposers of waste. Regulations (Environmental Protection (Duty of Care) Regulations 1991) also relate to this ‘duty of care’ requiring a system to be implemented (record keeping) to ensure that waste being handled does not cause pollution or harm to human health. An offence under Section 34 may result in a £5,000 fine.
Code of Practice
Part A Smoke control
Only burn material on site which does not require a waste management licence (wood, bark and plant material) and when there is no other suitable method of disposal; you may have to prove this if problems occur.
If you have to burn -
- Use your common sense.
- Build a fire of a reasonable size and one, which can easily be controlled.
- Pile the material so that air can get in it and through it so that it burns properly with the minimum of smoke and does not smoulder.
- Make sure that the fire is completely extinguished and not left smoking when work finishes for the day.
- Observe the conditions of exemption (dark smoke/ waste management licensing).
- Remember the risk of fire spreading and if necessary call the Fire Brigade before the fire gets out of hand or dangerous.
- If you are working near inhabited dwellings, hospital, school, offices or other noise sensitive development, consult your local Environmental Health Department for advice before you commence demolition work. Taking adequate precautions at an early stage could save you problems and expense and prevent unnecessary complaints arising.
- Burn materials such as roofing felt, foam plastics, or oil cloth, which might produce dark smoke or any other material for which a waste management licence would be required (including contaminated wood).
- Burn insulating cable.
- Build large uncontrollable fires.
- Build fires where smoke could become a traffic or health hazard e.g. near roadways or occupied buildings.
- Burn waste when it is foggy or when wind could blow smoke into other buildings.
- Leave a fire burning when the site is vacated.
- Burn properties in-situ.
Part B Dust Control
- Monitor the situation, and be aware of any dust problems on site. Pay particular attention during periods of dry weather.
- Control emissions of dust by managing site operations or the use of water spraying/sweeping and other dust suppression techniques. Particular attention should be given to primary sources e.g stockpiles, site roads, site operations and vehicle movements.
- Vehicles removing dusty material from site should be adequately sheeted.
- If mobile plant is to be used on site to crush, grind or reduce the size of material you should ensure that the operator has an authorisation to carry out the process.
Part C Noise Control
Best practicable means to minimise noise and vibration from the site shall be employed at all times and special consideration shall be given to Part 1, Section 10, of British Standard 5228: 1997 Noise and Vibration Control on Construction and Open Sites especially -
- Work programmed to minimise noise at unreasonable hours.
- Noisy plant and equipment shall be sited as far as possible from noise sensitive buildings; use of barriers e.g. soil mounds, site huts, acoustic partitions etc. to deflect noise away from noise sensitive buildings shall be employed wherever possible.
- Quiet types of plant, vehicles and equipment shall be used where practicable; plant, vehicles and equipment shall where possible be fitted with silencers, acoustic hoods or covers which should be kept in good order and used at all times.
- Plant, vehicles or equipment used intermittently should be shut down or throttled down to a minimum when not in use.
- Care should be taken when loading or unloading vehicles, dismantling scaffolding etc to minimise impact noise.
- Access to the site should be so sited to minimise disturbance to persons in noise sensitive buildings by vehicles entering or leaving the site.
- Any pneumatically operated percussive tools shall be fitted with approved mufflers or silencers, which shall be kept in good repair.
- To maintain good public relations and minimise the noise impact on residents living in the vicinity of the site, notification should be given of the proposed works.
Ensure that you and any subcontractor you employ comply with the above legislation and, if employed by Wigan Borough Council, carry out the points listed in the "Code of Practice".
Failure to observe the requirements of the relevant legislation and the "Code of Practice" could prejudice any future contract with Wigan Borough Council.
It is advisable that any contractor, not employed by the council, should also observe the Code of Practice recommendations in order that they may meet their legal obligations.