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. 

Reducing the effects of dust from sites 

If you run a building or construction 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. 

You should make sure that contractors know about the effective management of dust and particulates on site. 

What we can do if you cause a nuisance 

Dust from demolition, building and construciton 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 and construction sites 

If you run a building or construction 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.  

Building sites using Non Road Mobile Machinery (NRMM) 

Non-road mobile machinery (NRMM) is defined as any mobile machine or vehicle that is not solely intended for carrying passengers or goods on the road.

Examples of NRMM include, but are not limited to:

  • Access platforms
  • Dumpers Piling rigs
  • Excavators
  • Bulldozers
  • Forklifts
  • Compressors
  • Generators
  • Mobile cranes
  • Concrete pumps
  • Mobile crushers
  • Telehandlers
  • Rollers Other construction machinery     

See the Non-Road Mobile Machinery NRMM Practical Guide (PDF)

Future changes to the standards

To reduce emissions from NRMM and to protect the environment and human health:

  • From 1 September 2020 NRMM used on any development and building sites 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. The register is also the only way that site operators can obtain an exemption or approval to use retrofitted or specialist equipment. For further information and to register, visit the NRMM page on the london.gov.uk website.

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