We deal with many complaints about odours arising from a variety of sources, commonly these include:

  • Farmland Spreading. Including sewage sludge, cesspool waste and poultry unit waste.
  • Industrial Premises. e.g. solvents from car or body repair shops.
  • Domestic Premises. Including dirty properties, drainage, pets, wood burning stoves etc.
  • Farms. Including livestock rearing units, swill boiling etc.
  • Stables and Livery e.g horse manure burning.
  • Hot Food Takeaways / Restaurants/ Public Houses.e.g. cooking odours and bins.
  • Food Manufacturing Premises.
  • Sewage Works.

The Environmental Protection Team can enforce nuisance legislation if the odour is intrusive or excessive. However, we have to bear in mind the defence of Best Practical Means (BPM). This means if it can be shown that the odour is normal for the process taking place then formal action is unlikely to succeed.


Odours are assessed as a statutory nuisance under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 which defines odour as dust, fumes, gas, steam or smell. The City Council can take action to prevent a recurrence of the nuisance and businesses or commercial premises can be fined up to £20,000 upon conviction.

Where an industrial process is authorised under the Pollution Prevention and Control (England and Wales) Regulations 2000, an Abatement Notice may not be served. Where complaints of odour are substantiated at such premises, the appropriate action will be taken within the permit conditions of that particular process.

Private individuals are also able to take their own action by complaint to a magistrates court and if convicted, people are liable for fines up to £5,000 with a daily fine of £500 for as long as it continues.

If you wish to make a complaint

If you have a complaint about an odour problem try to speak to the person responsible for it first. Explain why it is disturbing you and ask them politely to do what they can to prevent it from happening again. Try to keep calm and reasonable.

If there is no improvement in the situation then please contact the Environmental Protection Team on 01962 848 350. We will normally recommend that you keep a log sheet detailing duration, frequency and effect of the odour. The log sheets should be filled out for a period of time to help us establish some information about the problems you are experiencing. A copy of the logsheet can be downloaded from this page. However, it is recommended you speak to us first to ensure this is the best way forward for your specific problem.


Farmland Spreading

  • Check the weather forecast prior to spreading.
  • Check the wind direction and try to spread only when wind is blowing away from neighbouring properties.
  • Avoid spreading at weekends, bank holidays or evenings.
  • Do not spread close to houses.
  • Avoid frequent spreading in the same location.
  • Avoid very heavy applications.
  • Plough in immediately after or use injection to minimise odour.

Cesspits and Septic tanks

  • Empty frequently.
  • Remedy defects as soon as possible, e.g. blocked soakaways/overflows.
  • Ensure vents are appropriately located and of sufficient height.

Poultry Waste

  • Remove frequently
  • Clean out storage sheds frequently

Industrial Premises

  • Where necessary increase the discharge height of any chimneys, but ensure this has no planning implications before doing so.
  • Remove any terminal endings that slow the air flow e.g. caps and cowls.
  • Substitute odorous products.
  • Use activated charcoal filters to adsorb organic odours.
  • Use water-based paints with low organic solvent content.
  • Maintain extract equipment, e.g. spray booths, fans etc.
  • Relocate odorous processes away from nearby domestic premises.

Farms/Livestock Units

  • Avoid odorous feeds.
  • Frequently remove waste, considering the time of day and wind direction.
  • Keep odorous areas dry and well ventilated.
  • Avoid the storage animal wastes near domestic premises.
  • Avoid burning horse manure, use an alternative means of disposal.

Hot food premises and food manufacturing

  • Increase the height and/or re-orientate the flue.
  • Service, clean and maintain ventilation equipment.
  • Use odour control technology, e.g. activated charcoal filters.