Environmental Protection & Services


Odour and dust nuisance

Odour is airborne smell that is produced by many substances and is detected by our sensory perception. Odours can be carried long distances in the air and thus have the ability to affect a large number of people. The degree to which people are affected by offensive odour will however depend on the sensitivity of their sense of smell and their tolerance of the odour in question.

How we can help?

We can take action under Section 80 of The Environmental Protection Act 1990 in cases where a statutory nuisance is found to exist. Examples of the types of problems we may be able to deal with include:

  1. fumes from industrial boilers, etc.
  2. dust from loading operations or commercial activities
  3. smoke from bonfires or chimneys
  4. accumulations of waste (e.g. dog faeces, food items, etc.)
  5. odour arising from the manner in which animals are kept
  6. filthy premises
  7. Dust from construction sites
  8. odour from industrial, trade or business premises (including agricultural activities)

We will not normally deal with everyday issues arising from ordinary activities such as cooking odours from domestic sources or transient issues such as dust from a farmer combining a field of wheat. There are also occasions when nothing further can be done and you should be aware that if you live close to sewage works, farmland on which slurry is spread, a refuse tip or certain other activities you may be affected by these activities from time to time. In these circumstances all we can do is to require that the operator do what he reasonably can to minimise those impacts.

What is a statutory nuisance?

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

  1. severity
  2. duration
  3. frequency
  4. whether it interferes with the “average” person’s reasonable enjoyment of their property.

Therefore, short-lived or trivial odours or dust emissions will most likely not constitute statutory nuisance. Similarly, an odour detected outdoors may not constitute a statutory nuisance during the winter, whereby during the summer (when the average person expects to use and enjoy his garden) that same odour may constitute a statutory nuisance, subject to previously outlined considerations including severity and duration etc.

What we will do?

You will be asked to keep a record, over a period of days or weeks, of when the smell or dust is a problem to you, for how long this occurs and at what time of day. We 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 or dust is found to be giving rise to a statutory nuisance then an abatement notice requiring the person responsible to take remedial action will be served.

Taking your own action

If you should wish to take your own action (possibly in cases where the Local Authority has been unable to identify statutory nuisance) provisions are made under Section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. This enables complaint to be made directly to the Magistrates’ Court, regarding an odour or dust emissions which you believe to be a nuisance.

Should you choose this course of action we would advise that you first consult a solicitor. Please note that you would be responsible for your solicitors costs and may also be responsible for any court costs (including those of the defendant) irrespective of the Courts ruling.

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