Report a nuisance smell

What is a nuisance smell?

For a smell to count as statutory nuisance it must be so offensive and prolonged that it does one of the following:

  • unreasonably and substantially interferes with the use or enjoyment of a home or other premises
  • injures health or be likely to injure health

What you need to know

If the smell is from an industrial, trade and business premises

We can investigate complaints about smells from industrial, trade and business premises that could be a statutory nuisance under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

The problem would have to be persistent and regular. A one-off incident would not normally be a statutory nuisance.

If the smell is from a residential property

We can't investigate smells from residential properties as statutory nuisance laws don’t apply.

Smells originating from residential premises are not in themselves covered by statutory nuisance laws although what may have given rise to the smell may be. This includes accumulations of waste in or on a property, known as filthy and verminous, for more information see statutory nuisances.  

Action you can take

You should first try to resolve the problem early on by talking to whoever is responsible for the nuisance smell from an industrial, trade and business premises as they may not be aware that the smell is causing a problem. 

If you’re worried about approaching them, write a letter, explaining the problem clearly and sticking to the facts. You can use this letter template to send to the person or organisation you think is responsible for the smell.

You may be able to resolve the issue without having to make a formal complaint. 

How to make a report

To make a formal complaint about a smell from industrial, trade and business premises you’ll need to a complete log sheet for a 14-day period. You can start the log on any day.

You will need to:

  • download the log sheet (DOCX, 50.8 KB)
  • add a new entry to the log every time you are disturbed by a nuisance smell over the next 14 days
  • send the completed form to us via email or post, Gloucester City Council, Community Wellbeing Team, PO Box 2017, Pershore, WR10 9BJ

If you are unable to download and print the log sheets, please contact us on 01452 396 396.

What happens next?

An officer will assess your log sheets and contact you to advise on the next steps.

When looking into your complaint, we will look at one or more of the following:

  • whether it interferes with the use of a property
  • whether it may affect health
  • how it’s likely to affect the average person (unusual sensitivities aren’t included)
  • how often it happens
  • how long it lasts
  • when it happens

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.

If we agree that a statutory nuisance is happening, has happened or will happen in the future, we may serve an abatement notice. This requires whoever’s responsible to stop or restrict the smell. The notice will usually be served on the person responsible but can also be served on the owner or occupier of the premises.

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.

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