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Rubbish and pollution problems

We have a duty to inspect its area to detect whether a statutory nuisance exists or is likely to occur or recur. This usually involves an initial investigation following any complaint of statutory nuisance from a local resident.

Statutory nuisances are mainly defined as something which seriously disturbs the comfort and enjoyment of a person's property including:

  • noise emitted from premises so as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance
  • smoke emitted from premises so as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance
  • fumes or gases emitted from premises (private dwellings only) so as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance
  • any dust, steam, smell or other effluvia arising on industrial, trade or business premises and being prejudicial to health or a nuisance
  • any accumulation or deposit which is prejudicial to health or a nuisance
  • any animal kept in such a place or manner as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance

The main legislation is that relating to statutory nuisance in Part III of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

Formal approach

Once we have received a complaint of alleged statutory nuisance, we will contact the person concerned informing them that a complaint has been received and that we will investigate the matter. We will consider a number of factors including:

  • diary records submitted by the complainant
  • location
  • time
  • frequency
  • duration
  • whether reasonable steps been taken to prevent the problem

It is often difficult for council officers to witness the problem, especially if it is of an intermittent nature. It is therefore important that diary sheets (pdf 22KB) are completed.

This provides further evidence, should it be required and also allows council officers to visit at an appropriate time to witness the problem.

Should the officer decide that a statutory nuisance exists or is likely to recur, he or she will usually attempt to resolve the matter through informal discussions with the person concerned. If it fails, a formal abatement notice can be served on the person responsible for the nuisance. The notice will require them to stop or restrict the nuisance and may specify any work necessary to achieve this.

If a notice is served, the recipient can appeal to the Magistrates' Court. It is at this stage that you may be required to give evidence in court and your details may be given to any solicitor acting for the person you are complaining about. Should this happen, we will give you as much advice and support as we can.

If the recipient of the notice fails to comply without a good reason, they are committing an offence and may be prosecuted. The council will need to witness the nuisance again and you may be required to give evidence in a magistrates' court.

The council also has powers to gain entry to premises, vehicles, machinery or equipment to abate a noise nuisance and has powers to seize noise-making equipment and can apply for it to be disposed of.