Most of us are troubled by unpleasant smells at some time. If the smell does not go on for a prolonged period or is not too unpleasant we can usually cope.
Gloucester City Council is the enforcing authority of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and has a duty to take action to deal with odour causing a statutory nuisance. A statutory nuisance includes 'any smell arising on industrial, trade or business premises and being prejudicial to health or a nuisance'.
Smells originating from domestic premises are not in themselves covered by the Act although what may have given rise to the smell may be. This can include accumulations of waste in or on a property, known as filthy and verminous. The second point is that in order for the Council to take action the smell must constitute a statutory nuisance.
What is a statutory nuisance?
A statutory nuisance is something that is so offensive and so prolonged that it significantly interferes with the enjoyment of an affected property. Unfortunately smell is not something that can be measured, the chemicals that give rise to smell are normally at exceedingly low levels and sensitivity to smell varies very considerably between individuals. Judgement of whether or not a smell constitutes a statutory nuisance can, therefore, take time especially if the occurrence of the smell is unpredictable and only apparent for short periods of time.
Do you have a complaint?
If you do wish to complain to the Council about a smell you will be asked to keep a record, over a period of days or weeks, of what you can smell, for how long and at what time of day. The Council will then use this information to try and establish if there is any pattern to the problem. We will then try and find the cause and what, if anything, can be done about it.
If we conclude that the smell is giving rise to a statutory nuisance then we may serve an abatement notice requiring the organisation responsible to take remedial action. Sometimes, however, there is nothing further that can be done. You should be aware that if you live close to sewage works, farmland on which slurry is spread or a refuse tip or certain other smelly activities you may be able to smell those activities from time to time. All the Council can do in those circumstances is require the operator to do what they reasonably can to minimise those smells.