Odour Complaints

Many people are temporarily troubled by unpleasant smells from time to time, especially those living in rural areas. If an odour is very unpleasant or persistent and has a prolonged and serious impact on residents the Council may be able to demonstrate statutory nuisance and enforce a solution if necessary. Arun District Council has a duty under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to investigate cases where odour may be causing statutory nuisance. We routinely investigate odour complaints to determine whether regulatory intervention is required and offer advice on good practice for minimising or preventing odour problems.
If you would like to report an odour issue, please either use our report it eform or call 01903 737755.
Statutory Nuisance procedures under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 do not apply to odour arising on domestic premises and the only formal remedy may be civil action for private nuisance. A statutory odour nuisance is something that is so offensive and so prolonged that it significantly interferes with the enjoyment of an affected property. Judgement of whether or not an odour constitutes a statutory nuisance can take time, especially if the occurrence of the odour is unpredictable and only apparent for a short time.
Certain industrial activities are regulated under the Environmental Permitting scheme, in some other cases there may be controls over odour contained within a planning permission. In the majority of cases there is no specific legal control so investigations are pursued to determine whether a statutory odour nuisance is being caused.
If the Council is satisfied that odour is causing a statutory nuisance an Abatement Notice may be served requiring the person responsible to take action to control it. Where the nuisance arises from a business it is a defence for a person served with an Abatement Notice to demonstrate that they are employing the "best practicable means" to minimise the nuisance. Sometimes "best practicable means" are already in place and there is no further improvement that can be achieved.
If you wish to complain to the Environmental Health Department you may be asked to assist an investigation by keeping a written Nuisance complaint record of events.pdf [pdf] 116KB of what you smell, for how long and when the odour affects you. We will try to find the cause of the odour and examine what, if anything, can be done to minimise it.
In some circumstances Arun District Council may be unable to act on behalf of a person who has complained of odour nuisance, due to the type of problem, the circumstances of the case or lack of evidence. A range of independent action can be taken privately by individuals. This includes complaining directly to the Magistrates' Court under Section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. This rarely used procedure is simple and need not be expensive.