Smells, Dust and Fumes

What to do if you are affected by nuisance smells, dust and fumes.

What can you do?

If you think that you can smell gas, call the national gas emergency number on 0800 111 999 immediately.

If you're being affected by a smell, dust or fumes in your area, we always recommend that you try to resolve the problem informally first, before you contact us. We find most issues can be resolved informally without the need for our involvement.

You should speak to the person causing the issue and explain politely what it is that you are being troubled by, try to explain calmly how and why the issue is affecting you. You may find this difficult, but often people are unaware that they are causing a problem and will be glad to do what they can to reduce it.

If you don't feel able to approach the person directly, consider writing a letter.

If you contact us we may ask you if you have tried to resolve the problem yourself first by speaking to the person before we will get involved. 

What can we do?

If speaking to the person causing the issue hasn't resolved the problem, you can contact us to explain what the issues are and how they are affecting you. We aim to resolve issues quickly and so we will contact the person alleged to be causing the issue to discuss and try to agree a solution informally.

If it is not possible to reach an informal solution we may suggest mediation between you and the person in order to try and resolve the issues.

We find that most issues can be resolved informally or through mediation, however the council can potentially take further formal action if it is felt necessary once other options have been explored.

Action can be taken where a statutory nuisance is found to exist. The types of problems we can deal with however are restricted to the following: 

  • fumes from boilers 
  • smoke from bonfires or chimneys 
  • smells from accumulations of waste 
  • odour arising from the manner in which animals are kept 
  • dirty premises 
  • odour from industrial, trade or business premises 
  • odour from the storage of waste

We have no powers to deal with cooking odours from domestic sources. 

Taking your own legal action

You have the right to take private legal action Take a look at our advice on taking your own action through the legal system.

You can also seek advice through the Citizen's Advice Bureau or on the government's GOV.UK resolving neighbour disputes web pages.

Frequently Ask Questions

What can be done about a smell coming from outside?

If you think the smell is gas, call the national gas emergency number on 0800 111 999 immediately. 

If the smell is from another source, such as a farmer spreading manure, and the smell is detectable on your premises, it should subside within 24 hours. If it persists you can contact us and we may investigate depending on the nature of the situation 

I think the air quality in my area is making me ill.

If you're having breathing difficulties or feel your health is suffering in any way from an air quality issue then see your GP without delay. You can report an issue us and we may investigate anything which could give rise to higher levels of pollution in your area

How do I report a factory/business which has a smelly chimney or produces a bad smell?

This matter can be investigated, and action will be taken if the factory or business is found to be causing a nuisance or is in breach of environmental protection legislation. Please report this to us. 

When is dust a nuisance?

Dust only constitutes a statutory nuisance in relation to commercial sources such as that caused by work carried out by builders on a domestic property, or work being carried out on a commercial property.

Was this page useful?

A-Z of services