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Dust and odour


Dust is a very general term referring to small wind blow particles, many of which are invisible to the human eye. A lot of dust occurs naturally from such things as pollen and sea spray. The main area of concern with respect to nuisance dust in Maldon is from construction processes, such as sand blasting and demolition works. Dust nuisance can only be dealt with if it is arising from industrial trade or business premises.

In most cases, potential dust problems can be avoided by following these guidelines:

  • provide and use suitably covered skips and enclosed chutes or take other suitable measures in order to minimise dust emission to the atmosphere when materials and waste are removed from the premises. All skips used for the storage of waste should be kept covered so far as is reasonably practicable
  • provide, fix and maintain suitable screens or awnings to screen the building and scaffold so as to effectively minimise dust and debris from falling or being blown over the boundaries
  • provide, maintain and use a supply of water and means of dispensing it, to dampen dust in order to minimise its emission from the premises
  • do not permit the sweeping of any dust or dusty material without effectively treating it with water or other substance in order to minimise its emission from the premises

With regard to the excavation and subsequent movement of material from a construction site, consider the following:

  • where possible, dampen down the area being excavated to reduce the possibility of windblown dust
  • wash down all machinery and vehicles (including wheels) prior to leaving the site or joining a public highway, thus preventing dust being transported outside the construction area


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