What is Statutory Nuisance?

To fall within the definition of statutory nuisance, an activity needs to be, or likely to be:

  • a nuisance
  • posing a threat to health

A nuisance is something which is unreasonable and causes substantial interference in the use and enjoyment of a person's property. It is much more than just an annoyance or being aware of something.

Types of statutory nuisance

  • Smoke, fumes or gases: emitted from premises, or from a vehicle, machinery or equipment in a street and bonfires

  • Odour, dust, stream: from industrial, trade or business premises

  • Noise: coming from premises, or from a vehicle, machinery or equipment in the street

  • Light: from badly adjusted security lights or floodlights

  • Insects: from any industrial, trade or business premises

  • The physical state of any premises: to be in such a state as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance

  • Accumulations: anything which could cause a nuisance or present a health risk for humans, for example an accumulation of rotting food which attracts rats or mice

Statutory nuisances tend to be property based issues. Therefore an issue which disturbed you whilst walking on a public footpath or whilst you were a visitor somewhere, could not be a statutory nuisance to you.

Issues unlikely to be covered by statutory nuisance law:

In such cases, while we may not be able to take formal action, we may be able to give you advice or suggest your best course of action. It is possible for a private individual to take civil action for damages if their quality of life is badly affected.

How is a statutory nuisance determined?

A statutory nuisance is determined by one of our environmental health officers, not the person who has complained. The decision is based on what an 'ordinary person' would accept. We cannot therefore take into consideration people who are shift workers or people who are studying or unwell.

We will take into account:

  • The time of day/night
  • How long it lasts
  • How often it happens
  • Whether it's socially acceptable, for example fireworks on bonfire night, or church bells ringing
  • The surrounding environment

How is a statutory nuisance complaint investigated?

For further information please see Statutory Nuisance Investigation Procedure

Last updated: Wednesday, 16 November, 2022.