Smells, odours and dust (air pollution)

Report air pollution, including bad smells or odours and dust pollution from construction sites.

Can I report smells, odours and dust issues?

Yes, we have legal powers to investigate and deal with serious issues caused by air pollution, such as smells and dust.

However, we only have powers to investigate smells and dust from industrial or business premises, not domestic properties. We may, however, be able to deal with certain causes of smells and dust at domestic properties, such as accumulations of waste or bonfires.

Read more about statutory nuisance laws on the government's Legislation website.

Read more about cigarette smoking in public places.

What happens next?

Find out what happens if you report air pollution.

Please note: it may take up to 10 working days to respond to your complaint.

How does the council control air pollution from businesses?

We issue permits to certain types of business that might have an impact on air quality, including smells and dust. The permits contain certain conditions that the businesses have to comply with, including emission limits.

We routinely inspect industrial processes and other business premises to make sure they are complying with these conditions. If we receive complaints about a permitted site, we will investigate to see if there has been a breach of condition.

Read more about environmental permitting.

Can the council do anything about agricultural odours?

We are only likely to investigate odour complaints relating to the spreading of manure on land if the smell is particularly excessive or prolonged. Spreading manure on farmland (known as 'muck spreading') is recognised as standard agricultural practice and odour can be expected from time to time.

Odours usually last for a short period of time and farmers are encouraged to use best practice when muck spreading.

Best practice measures for minimising odours from muck spreading is included in 'Protecting our water, soil and air' guidance available on the GOV.UK website.

How can dust from building sites be reduced?

Dust nuisance can be a major issue during construction work, from activities such as excavation, demolition, burning, and vehicles using roads.

Certain measures can be used to reduce the likelihood of causing a dust nuisance, including:

  • the use of wheel wash facilities for vehicles entering and leaving the site
  • water spraying of haul roads and stockpiles
  • reducing vehicle speeds on haul roads
  • covering stockpiles if in place for a long time
  • sheeting the tops of vehicles carrying dusty materials
  • using sealed or sheeted containers/skips for waste materials
  • erecting barriers or sheeting around works
  • using enclosed chutes or conveyors to transfer materials
  • using odour and dust arrestment plant, such as masking agents, scrubbers and filters.

Advice and guidance is available to the construction industry and members of the public on the Considerate constructors scheme website.

We can investigate odour and dust nuisance from building sites. Conditions relating to dust control are often attached to planning permissions, particularly for large developments.

These are enforced by our planning enforcement team.

Is there guidance on  assessing odour for planning applications?

Yes, the Institute of Air Quality Management has produced guidance on the assessment of odour for planning, which is available on the IAQM website.

If you are proposing a commercial kitchen which has the potential to give rise to cooking smells, it is recommended that you undertake an odour risk assessment as part of your planning application, in order to determine what odour control measures may need to be included in the design of the kitchen.

You may need to discuss your proposals with a suitable air quality consultant at the planning stage.

Search for an environmental consultant on the ENDS directory website.

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