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Dust and odour


Odour complaints can arise from a number of sources such as food odour from takeaway outlets and restaurants, through to more industrial sources, such as solvent smells from paint spraying. As with dust, odours can only be dealt with if they arise from industrial, trade or business premises. Domestic smells may be able to be dealt with by using other legislation such as accumulations.

Odour problems can be due to poorly maintained air handling units or inadequate ventilation and filtration and may indicate that the system in question requires service work or replacement parts.

We receive a number of odour complaints each year from a variety of sources but the most common are fumes from:

  • restaurants and cafes, and
  • muck and sewage sludge spreading

There are no laws which relate specifically to odour and no fixed level which constitutes a nuisance; as with noise and bonfires, odour nuisance can be dealt with under Sections 79 & 80 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

In order for an odour to be classed as a statutory nuisance, it must be seriously affecting an individual's use or enjoyment of their property. To constitute a nuisance the odour must occur continuously for a period of time and be a frequent problem, we are unable to take action on short lived smells i.e. those that occur only for a few minutes, smells that happen infrequently or where the individual's use or enjoyment of their property is not being affected. Nuisance is assessed subjectively by one of our officers, who must visit you in your property to witness the odour for us to take action. Depending on the source and frequency of the odour, you may be required to keep a diary sheet, detailing the times and frequency that the smells are occurring.

The Law Relating to Statutory Nuisance

How to make a nuisance complaint

DEFRA Odour Guidance