Reporting smoke and air pollution

The types of air pollution you can report to us include:

  • bonfires and smoke
  • dust and grit in the air
  • nuisance smells and odours

Report air pollution

Bonfires and smoke

There is no law against having bonfires, but it is an offence for the smoke or smell to cause a nuisance. Smoke from garden bonfires in a residential area can seriously affect people and premises. It can also contribute to local air pollution levels, and even reduce visibility on nearby roads.

It's always a good idea to try and resolve problems by politely letting your neighbour know if a bonfire has been causing a nuisance.

Medway Council only has a duty to act and take enforcement action where it can be shown that a statutory nuisance exists.

To be a nuisance, there has to be evidence about:

  • the frequency of the bonfires 
  • their duration
  • the locality
  • how the bonfire directly affects the complainant's enjoyment of their land


We have a statutory duty to investigate dust nuisance complaints in accordance with the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Before considering action we will fully investigate a complaint.

The council will need to determine:

  • that the dust occurs often enough
  • the extent of the dust and its affect on the complainant
  • that the dust lasts for unreasonable periods of time

Smells and odours

The types of problems the council is able to deal with in regards to smells are:

  • fumes from boilers
  • accumulation of waste (such as from dog fouling and food items)
  • odour from the manner in which animals are kept
  • filthy premises
  • odour from industrial, trade or business premises (such as food premises, sewage sludge spread as fertiliser on farms and business using solvents and paint)

We don't have the power to deal with cooking odours from domestic premises, such as people's homes.

For an odour to be classed as a statutory nuisance, it must seriously affect an individual's use or enjoyment of their property. To constitute a nuisance, the odour must occur continuously for a period of time and be a frequent problem. An officer will visit the affected property to witness the odour. If they are satisfied that a nuisance has occurred and may reoccur, a legal notice will be served to stop further nuisances.