Odour nuisance

What is odour?

Odour is the smell that we are able to detect from substances, usually carried by air into our nostrils. The ability of odours to be carried long distances in the air means that odours have the ability to affect a large number of people.

The degree to which people are affected will however depend on the sensitivity of their sense of smell and their tolerance of the odour in question.

How the Council can help

The Council can take action under Section 80 of The Environmental Protection Act 1990 in cases where a statutory nuisance is found to exist. The types of problems that we are able to deal with however, are restricted to the following:

  • fumes from boilers, etc.;
  • smoke from bonfires or chimneys;
  • accumulations of waste (e.g. dog faeces, food items, etc.);
  • odour arising from the manner in which animals are kept;
  • filthy premises and;
  • odour from industrial, trade or business premises

What is a statutory nuisance?

Whether or not odour constitutes a statutory nuisance depends on several factors, including:

  • severity;
  • duration;
  • frequency and;
  • whether it interferes with the "average" person's reasonable enjoyment of their property.

In other words, an unpleasant odour in someone's garden in the winter that does not enter their house would not constitute a statutory nuisance as the "average" person would not be expected to spend significant periods of time in their garden during cold weather. However, during warmer weather they are more likely to be in the garden and therefore the same odour would be more likely to constitute a statutory nuisance.

What the Council will do

You will be asked to keep a record, over a period of days or weeks, of what you can smell, for how long and at what time of day. The Council will then use this information to determine if there is any pattern to the problem and then seek to find the cause and resolve the issue.

If the odour is found to be giving rise to a statutory nuisance then an abatement notice requiring the person responsible to take remedial action may be served.

Sometimes, however, there is nothing further that can be done. You should be aware that if you live close to sewage works, farmland on which slurry is spread, a refuse tip or certain other smelly activities you may be able to smell those activities from time to time. All the Council can do in those circumstances is require the operator to do what they reasonably can to minimise those smells.

Taking your own action

If you should wish to take your own action, under Section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, you may make a complaint directly to the Magistrate's Court regarding an odour which you believe to be a nuisance.

If this should be your chosen course of action we would advise you to consult a solicitor. Please note that you would be responsible for any costs incurred by such action.

More information

  1. Odour nuisance (you are here)
  2. Agricultural Odours