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Odour nuisance

Odour nuisance guidance

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

Many things can affect whether we would consider an order to be a statutory nuisance.

  • The time of day the odour occurs.
  • How long the odour is a problem.
  • 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.

We cannot measure odour, judging whether odour it is a statutory nuisance can take time. Especially if it is difficult to predict when the will odour occur and if it is lasts for a short period.

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

Report an odour problem online, if the smell is comes from one of the above.

We cannot deal with cooking odours from domestic premises. 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. It is considered the best option for disposal. The spreading of pre-treated sewage sludge is also a perfectly lawful activity. It is considered the best practicable environmental option for disposal of such wastes.

Read the Code of Good Agricultural Practice on the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs website for best practice on spreading. Spreading is recognised as standard agricultural practice and odour must be expected from time to time. Spreading should always be undertaken in accordance with this best practice Code.

The Code advises about 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', we have little remit to enforce change.

DEFRA's Guidance on the control of odour and noise from commercial kitchen exhaust on GOV.UK 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.

Report an odour problem online, or contact the Environmental Protection Team on the details below, if you do experience problems with odour from businesses.

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.

We may need to refer your complaint to the Environment Agency, as permits for larger industrial activities are issued and enforced by them.

For an odour complaint about Omega Proteins Ltd at Wildriggs, Penrith, telephone the Environment Agency, on their 24 hour incident hotline 0800 80 70 60.