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Smells and odours

Odours and unpleasant smells

Wiltshire Council has the duty to take reasonable steps to investigate complaints about odour causing a statutory nuisance. A statutory odour nuisance is defined in the Environmental Protection Act as ‘any smell arising on industrial, trade or business premises and being prejudicial to health or a nuisance’.

The legislation does not enable us to investigate smells from domestic premises.

We can take action about an odour or unpleasant smell where we can prove a Statutory nuisance under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

A statutory nuisance is something which is so offensive and so prolonged that it significantly interferes with the enjoyment of an affected property. The chemicals which 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.

The odour from temporary farming activities such as "muck spreading" is unlikely to be deemed a nuisance, however the daily processing of materials over a prolonged period giving rise to a strong odour affecting the inside of your house may do.

Farmers and land owners are encouraged to follow the Code Of  Good Agricultural Practise for farmers, growers and land managers. Some muck spreading will require a license from the Environment Agency.

We can only take action from a business or commercial premises and not a domestic property.

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If you wish to complain to the council about a smell  you will need to download and complete odour monitoring sheets and return them to us.

We do not take anonymous complaints, you will need to complete the monitoring sheets in full with your contact details and the location of the premises or land which is emitting the odour.

We can only investigate odour complaints from commerical or business premises.

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We cannot investigate smells or odours from a domestic property.

Depending on the circumstances, you may wish to speak to the person or business responsible for the smell. They may not realise that they are causing a problem and the issue may be resolved quickly this way.

If you wish to complain to the council about a commerical or industrial smell you will need to download and complete odour monitoring sheets and return them to us. We do not take anonymous complaints; you will need to complete the monitoring sheets in full with your contact details and the location of the premises or land which is emitting the odour.
We do not have the resources to look for the location of the odour so unless you can provide details of where the odour is coming from we will be unable to investigate.

If your smell is about "muck spreading" on farmland then its unlikely that we are unable to take any action as this type of odour is likely to only last for a day or so. If you experience an farm odour which lasts for more than a few days then we may be able to investigate it but will need a location of the fields that are being treated,

The process and timing of muck spreading on land is covered by a Code of Good Practise Agricultural Practise for farmers, growers and land owners. Certain types of  "muck spreading" may require a license issued by the Environment Agency.

When we received your log sheets, your complaint will be logged and reviewed by the Environmental Health Officer for the area. The officer will use this information to try and establish if there is any pattern to the problem. Odour complaints can be difficult to substantiate as they are affected by weather conditions and the type of odour. We may therefore ask you to continue to monitor after your complaint is logged.

We may make visits in an attempt to witness the smell. Officers will usually undertake a maximum of three visits to substantiate your complaint.

If after the three visits no nuisance has been established, the council will close the investigation

If you have a disability which may impact on how we contact you please let us know.

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Having considered all the evidence, the investigation will result in one of the following courses of action:
a) No further action if no nuisance is substantiated
b) Informal advice. If you live close to a sewage works, farmland on which slurry is spread or 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.
c) Service of formal statutory notice to abate the nuisance requiring the organisation responsible to take remedial action

If an abatement notice is served and not complied with legal action may be taken through the Courts.
Enforcement will be carried out in accordance with Public Protection Enforcement Policy.

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Odour monitoring log sheets

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Odour Monitoring Log

Size 186kb

Nuisance - How to take your own legal action

If the local authority is unable to substantiate a statutory nuisance you are able to take your own action against the person/organisation responsible

Information about out to do this can be found on the How to take your own legal action page.

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Last updated: 12 October 2018 | Last reviewed: 12 October 2018