Pollution FAQs

The Environmental Protection Team deal with pollution of air, land and some watercourses, as well as statutory nuisance complaints, such as noise and odour.

Am I allowed to have a bonfire?

For domestic properties there are no laws which stop you having a bonfire. However, it is still possible for a bonfire to a statutory nuisance. For a bonfire to be a statutory nuisance it will depend on what material is being burned. How much smoke the bonfire is producing. If the is smoke from the bonfire is being blown onto nearby properties. And how often the burning occurs.

See Bonfires and smoke for further information.

There is a heap of rubbish in my neighbours garden, what can I do?

We would consider rubbish in a garden a problem if it is likely to offer a source of food or shelter for pests such as rats and mice. We would also consider rubbish a problem if it caused an odour nuisance. In these circumstances, we can contact the person responsible and get the rubbish removed.

My neighbours hens keep coming into my garden. What can I do to stop this?

We do not have any powers to stop hens going into other people's gardens. As a first step, you should speak to the owner of the hens to ask if they can take measures to stop the hens getting into your garden. However, if this does not resolve the issue, it would then be down to you to keep the hens out of your garden, for example, fencing.

Why is it so important to keep (and return) the nuisance diary?

A nuisance diary enables an officer to get an idea of how severe the problem is. We need a diary as evidence to enable us to take formal action, if necessary.

My neighbours' septic tank/cesspit is leaking onto my land. What should I do?

Try speaking to your neighbours, as they may not realise that this is happening. However, we have the power to ensure that a property has adequate means for the disposal of wastewater. If there is wastewater running across your land, we can take the necessary steps to resolve this problem.

The manhole in my garden is overflowing, what can I do?

If the manhole is on a length of drain which serves only your property, then the blockage is probably in your own pipework. You will need to call a plumber to fix this for you, although before you do, it might be worth checking to see if your insurance policy covers you for this.

See contact us on the United Utilities website if the pipe serves (or you suspect it serves) more than one property.

My toilet(s) and/or sink(s) are showing signs of a blockage. What can I do?

The key thing here is to find out whether the problem is in your own pipework, or whether the blockage is on the shared drains or in the public sewer.

The blockage is probably in your own pipework if the inspection chambers on your property are still free flowing; if not all of your toilets and sinks are showing signs of a blockage and no other properties are experiencing the same problem. In this is the case, you will need to call a plumber to fix this for you, although before you do, it might be worth checking to see if your insurance policy covers you for this.

If more than one property is experiencing problems and/or there is widespread sewer flooding in the area the problem is likely to be in the public sewer or on the shared drains.

See contact us on the United Utilities website for who to telephone about wastewater queries and emergencies.

What do I do if I think there is asbestos in my house?

If you are in doubt as to whether any material already in your home contains asbestos, or if you suspect your home contains damaged asbestos material, do not try to deal with it yourself, contact the Environmental Protection Team for further advice about safe disposal.

How can I carry out a Radon test on my property?

Go to UKradon on the UK Health Security Agency website for a three steps to manage radon in buildings.

How can I get my drinking water tested?

If you are not on mains water and have a private supply (from a borehole, for example) a bacteriological and chemical analysis can be arranged by contacting the Environmental Protection Team. There is a charge for this service and the person requesting the test pays the analysis fee.

Go to your water supply on the United Utilities website to find out more, if you are on mains water.

Are farmers allowed to spread what they like on their fields?

Yes, however, they have to comply with legislation which, the Environment Agency enforces. We investigate these problems and liaise with the Environment Agency and the farmer to ensure as little disturbance is caused as possible. Also, they should not cause a statutory nuisance.

Do you have any information on the local Air Quality?

Yes, we carry out monitoring of Nitrogen Dioxide levels around the district and we have access to limited air quality information from some of the more polluting industries in the district. We also check with the Central Government Department of Environment Transport & Regions for maps of concentrations of major pollutants.

I live by an electricity substation, should I have concerns about my health?

Go to Public Health England on GOV.UK.

Last updated: Tuesday, 12 October, 2021.