Last Updated: 12 April 2024

Normally we can investigate complaints of statutory nuisance. This could include noise, smoke, fumes, light, insects, dust and accumulations of rubbish. The powers that are available to us are set out in The Environmental Act 1990; law on statutory nuisance.

To help us deal with nuisance cases effectively:

  • read and act on the advice below
  • only after you have considered all options should you contact us
  • we will try to respond to your enquiry as quickly as possible however this will depend on the severity of the complaint and also our available resources

Action you can take

In the first instance and at this time in particular we would ask that you contact the person responsible for the nuisance directly, either by letter or by knocking on their door. They may be unaware of the problem and might take action voluntarily to prevent the nuisance.

If you are a tenant, or you are aware that the property where the nuisance is coming from is owned by a landlord or housing association, then you should also contact that landlord and explain the problem.

If these steps do not work then you may wish to report the matter to us to investigate further and determine if we are able to take action, or consider a more formal course of action where you can apply to the court to establish if the activity is a statutory nuisance.

Action we can take

We will investigate your complaint and establish if it falls within the powers available to us to use. We will need to establish how specifically the nuisance is affecting you, and therefore will consider:

  • time (either day or night)
  • duration
  • frequency of occurrence
  • type of nuisance
  • intensity
  • social acceptance (such as church bells or fireworks on Bonfire Night)
  • location/locality
  • motive

There are some things that are unlikely to be a nuisance such as a one-off party, arguing neighbours, a baby crying or a dog barking occasionally.

Also, we have no control over:

  • road traffic or engine noise on a public highway
  • people shouting or screaming on a public road or footpath
  • dust, steam or smells from a railway locomotive steam engine
  • air traffic noise such as low flying jets can be reported to the RAF Liaison Officer on 01768 891 391. General aircraft noise is dealt with by the Civil Aviation Authority.

Report a noise complaint

Report a smell complaint

Report a smoke complaint

Report dust, steam and effluvia

If you are a tenant, or you are aware that the property where the nuisance is coming from is owned by a landlord or housing association, then you should also contact that landlord and explain the problem.

If we investigate and conclude something is not a nuisance, we will also consider whether action can be taken for antisocial behaviour under a Community Protection Notice.


Burning of green and/or untreated timber is not a direct offence, but it can effect air quality by releasing particulates and dioxins into the environment

If your bonfire causes difficulty to your neighbours you may be committing an offence.

  • keep bonfires to an absolute minimum
  • think about how it could effect your neighbours
  • let your neighbours know you are going to have a bonfire to make sure they have no objections
  • consider wind direction, time of day and keep the fire small and under control

If you are affected by somebody else’s garden bonfire speak with the person who has started the fire and ask them to put it out. If this doesn't work, contact us.

Nuisance and planning 

The Environmental Protection Group is consulted on planning applications which might cause a nuisance.

If you have concerns about a development tell the relevant planning authority.

If you are a developer and need to submit environmental information speak to us before submitting a planning application. This will help make sure you give us the correct information.

Nuisance and pests

It is the responsibility of landowners and occupiers to ensure that rats and mice are controlled on their property and land. Where this is not done, we can use our powers to enforce land owners and occupiers to take action and control vermin.

Pest control

Nuisance and licensing

The Environmental Protection Group is consulted on licensing applications. Conditions can be requested to prevent noise nuisance.