Acoustics Explainer Series: What is BPM?

26.07.2023 2 min read

BPM is an abbreviation for Best Practicable Means, and in the context of noise and vibration from construction sites, can represent the measures a contractor has put in place to control noise and vibration on site.

By demonstrating that BPM has been adopted on site, BPM can be used as a defence against statutory nuisance actions and prosecution, and as grounds for appeal.

BPM is defined in Section 72 of the Control of Pollution Act (CoPA) and Section 79 (9) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990:

  • “Practicable” means reasonably practicable having regard among other things to local conditions and circumstances, to the current state of technical knowledge, and to the financial implications;
  • The means to be employed include the design, installation, maintenance, and manner and periods of operation of plant and machinery and the design, construction, and maintenance of buildings and structures;
  • The test is to apply only so far as compatible with any duty imposed by law;
  • The test is to apply only so far as compatible with safety and safe working conditions and with the exigencies of any emergency or unforeseeable circumstances;

The CoPA also states that in determining whether BPM has been employed, regard should be given to any relevant Code of Practice approved under Section 71 of CoPA, BS5228:2009+A1:2014 ‘Code of practice for noise and vibration control on construction and open sites’ has been approved as a Code of Practice by the Secretary of State.

BPM will vary on the local conditions and circumstances for each site and means of controlling noise on one site may not be applicable to the next. Councils may have a minimum requirement of BPM which may be detailed in the local authority’s Code of Construction Practice (which usually aligns with the considerations in BS5228). Demonstrating BPM is generally a requirement of Section 61 applications to the local authority.

BPM will only apply so far as compatibility with safety and safe working conditions which means if an activity on-site is safety critical and noise and vibration control measures would increase the risk of the site then the safety of the operative would take precedence.

If a local authority has no specific guidance or local policies on construction noise or vibration, controls must still be implemented in accordance with BPM.

Key Contacts

Antony Gregson Principal Consultant - Noise & Vibration