Odour complaints

Find out how to report odour issues and what our Environmental Health Officers can do about it.

We all have to deal with bad smells or odours from time to time. This more often the case for people living in rural areas.

What we can investigate

We can only investigate smells or odours if they are causing a ‘statutory nuisance’. This means the smell is so bad and goes on for so long it significantly interferes with the enjoyment of your home, or is likely to cause ill health.

The smell or odour must be coming from an industrial, trade or business premises.

Smells from domestic properties like cooking or cigarette smoke are a civil matter between neighbours and we do not deal with these.

Some types of business are controlled under the environmental permits scheme.

Reporting issues online

You can report smells or odours to us anytime online.

Report odours online

Keeping a diary

It will be important for any investigation that you keep a detailed written diary of the problem.

You should record:

  • the date the smell occurred
  • the time the smell started and ended
  • a description of the smell and how it affected you

We will ask you to send us these diaries if we start an investigation.

What we can do

If we find that the smell is causing a statutory nuisance, we can serve an abatement notice on the person responsible.

An abatement notice requires the person to take action to control the smell. If they fail to do so, this is an offence.

It is a defence for a company to prove that it has taken ‘best practicable means’ to minimise the smell.

If ‘best practicable means’ are in place, there may be no further reduction in smell possible.

Farm odours

Every year we receive complaints about smells coming from farmland. This is usually during the spring and after the summer harvest.

The cause of these smells is often the storing and spreading of sewage sludge, manure or slurries. This is known as muck spreading.

Muck spreading is an important part of farming and is legal. The smells caused by this process can be strong, but often do not last for long and are carried away by weather.

There are no legal limits on how often and when a farmer can muck spread. Farmers should work to the DEFRA Code of Good Agricultural Practice.

We won’t consider any complaints about smells coming from muck spreading unless the smell continues for at least 72 hours after spreading is completed.