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Odour Nuisance

Odour Nuisance Guidance

A statutory odour nuisance is something which is so offensive and prolonged that it significantly interferes with the enjoyment and use of the affected property.

Many things can affect whether an odour would be considered a statutory nuisance: time of day the odour occurs; how long it is a problem for; the type of smell and its effects; together with the character of the area.

For example, in the countryside it is reasonable to expect odour from farming activities.

Unfortunately, odour is not something which can be measured. Judgement of whether or not odour constitutes a statutory nuisance can take time especially if the occurrence of the odour is unpredictable and only apparent for short periods of time.

Odour problems we can investigate...

The types of odour problems that we are able to deal with are restricted to the following:

  • fumes from boilers and so on
  • smoke from bonfires or chimneys
  • accumulations of waste
  • odour arising from the manner in which animals are kept
  • filthy premises
  • odour from industrial, trade or business premises, including premises such as restaurants and takeaways

We cannot deal with cooking odours from domestic premises and if the source is a commercial premises, such as a restaurant, we cannot enforce any changes if the business has already adopted best practicable methods to reduce the odour.

Common causes of odour

Manure spreading

Odour complaints can sometimes relate to the storing and spreading of bio-solids (sewage sludge), animal manure and slurries (muck spreading).

The general practice of incorporating manures and bio-solids into agricultural land is a legitimate practice and is considered the best option for disposal. The spreading of pre-treated sewage sludge is also a perfectly lawful activity and considered the best practicable environmental option for disposal of such wastes.

Spreading is recognised as standard agricultural practice and odour must be expected from time to time. However, spreading should always be undertaken in accordance with the best practice guidance given in the DEFRA Code of Good Agricultural Practice, subsection 5.4 (PDF: 1.2Mb / 125 pages).

The guidance advices about the weather conditions that would be appropriate for spreading, days and times to avoid, and the need for the land to be cultivated soon after spreading.

If we become aware of unacceptable odours produced by spreading agricultural materials, an officer will investigate the source to ensure that the Code of Practice is being complied with.

We will not usually consider complaints unless the odour persists for at least 24 hours after spreading has been completed.

Commercial Kitchen Extraction Systems

Although it is not possible to completely remove all odours, planning conditions generally prevent odour nuisances occurring from commercial kitchens.

If you feel that odour from a commercial kitchen, such as a restaurant or pub, is having an unreasonable effect on the enjoyment of your property please contact the Environmental Protection Team for advice.

We will try to assess whether the offending kitchen is operating what is known as "best practice methods". For example, is the extraction system suitable for the types of food and quantities of foods being cooked, taking into account reasonable cost. If the premises is found to be already operating "best practice methods", then the Local Authority has little remit to enforce change.

DEFRA's Guidance on the Control of Odour and Noise from Commercial Kitchen Exhaust Systems gives odour (and noise) control advice for commercial kitchens (PDF: 425Kb / 99 pages). It also outlines what should be submitted to the planning department when applying to change the extraction system in a commercial kitchen.

Industrial, Trade and Business Activities

We regulate certain types of business to keep any air pollution (including odour) that they may cause to a minimum.

Under the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2010, certain businesses must get a permit from us. This permit will set out conditions they must keep to, including ways to prevent odours produced by their activities from causing a nuisance.

If you do experience problems with odours from businesses, contact the Environmental Protection Team for advice. We may need to refer your complaint to the Environment Agency as permits for larger industrial activities are issued and enforced by them.

If we cannot solve the problem by enforcing the conditions of the permit, we may be able to take action under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.