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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.

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 or cigarette smoke travelling between properties. 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.

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.

We advise that you contact the company causing the issue directly to see if a resolution can be found informally.  However, where this is not possible or it is ineffective you can contact City and neighbourhood.

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 Code of Good Agricultural Practice on Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs website.

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 City and neighbourhood team for advice.

We will try to assess whether the offending kitchen is operating what is known as "best practice methods". 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 outlines what should be submitted to the planning department when applying to change the extraction system in a commercial kitchen. Download an odour risk assessment.

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 2016, certain businesses must get an environmental 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.

To report any problems contact our City and neighbourhood team.

If you would like any further information you might find the links below useful:

Noise nuisances: how councils deal with complaints

How to resolve neighbour disputes

Code of Good Agricultural Practice

Nuisance smells: how councils deal with complaints        

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