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Pollution control: building and demolition sites

We may be able to help deal with dust, smoke, noise and other nuisances caused by demolition and building sites. These nuisances can damage health and affect the quality of life of people living and working in the borough.
Builder using an power cutting tool, creating dust

Dust from demolition or building sites

Reducing the effects of dust from sites

If you run a building site you can limit the effects of dust by:
  • using water sprays or sprinklers to keep the dust down during activities such as filling skips, breaking concrete and managing stockpiles
  • washing the wheels of vehicles leaving the site, if they are carrying mud or waste
  • putting up solid barriers around the site 
  • properly covering lorries that leave the site carrying waste
  • cleaning the road and footpath near the site entrance when needed
  • using dust bags, spraying water or, when using disk cutters, making the working area wet before using the machinery.
If demolition or building is likely to last more than a week, we advise that you follow the Best practice guide to dust on the Greater London Authority website. The guide sets out how to identify activities which cause dust and how to limit the effects.
You should make sure that contractors know about the efficient management of dust and particulates on site.

What we can do if you cause a nuisance

Dust from a demolition or building sites may, like smoke, be a legal nuisance. If you create a nuisance from dust or smoke we can issue an abatement notice.
An abatement notice is an order to stop or change the activities which cause the problem. If you do not stop or make the changes, we may take legal action against you.

Smoke from demolition or building sites

If you run a building site, you must not burn waste materials on site.
Burning causes smoke, which contains carbon monoxide, particles and a range of poisonous substances. Bonfires add to air pollution and affect the health of people on and off the site. The smoke, smell and smuts from bonfires can also annoy neighbours and they can become dangerous.
It is illegal to burn any material which gives off dark smoke on industrial or commercial premises (including demolition sites), and you could be fined up to £20,000. We do not have to give you a warning or a written notice.

What we can do if you cause a nuisance

Along with the Environment Agency, we have powers to control smoke from burning waste on sites. If we receive complaints, or we think that burning will happen and it will cause a nuisance, we can issue an abatement notice.
An abatement notice is an order to stop a nuisance and sets out the steps you must take to minimise problems. If you do not take the steps needed, we can force you to by taking legal action against you.

Buidling sites using Non Road Mobile Machinery (NRMM)

Combustion engines on construction/demolition sites such as generators, excavators, bulldozers. loaders, mobile cranes contribute greatly to air pollution by emitting carbon oxide (CO), hydrocarbons (HC), nitrogen oxide (NOx) and particulate matters.​

The Mayor of London is taking action to reduce emissions from non-road mobile machinery (NRMM) to protect and improve Londoners' health, namely:
  • From 1 September 2020 NRMM used on any development site within Newham will be required to meet Stage IIIB of EU Directive 97/68/EC as a minimum.
  • Since 1 September 2015 at major development sites within Newham, NRMM with a net power between 37kW and 560 kW are required to meet Stage IIIA of the Directive.
It is mandatory for developers to register their site as NRMM compliant. For further information and to register please use the​ service.

Building sites: working hours

You can limit the impact of building work on people living in the borough by keeping to standard working hours:
  • Monday to Friday: 8am to 6pm
  • Saturday: 8am to 1pm
  • Sundays and bank holidays: closed
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