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How Do Councils Deal With Odour Complaints?

Posted on 11th March 2020

If residents are affected by the smell nuisance of a nearby industrial, trade or business premise, they reserve the right to report that nuisance to the council.

The council then have a duty to review this complaint and to take action on behalf of the complainee appropriately. As Section 79 of the Environmental Protection Act states, the council are obliged to take ‘such steps as are reasonably practicable’ to review the complaint.

The council may visit or write to the premise causing the nuisance, for example, requesting the responsible parties to make necessary adjustments to reduce the smell nuisance.

Below, we’ve broken down the separate stages involved when councils deal with odour complaints.


  1. The council must assess the nuisance smell

To gauge whether or not a smell is a ‘statutory nuisance’, the council will weigh the following factors:

  • What is the source of the smell?
  • How many residents/locals does the smell affect?
  • Does the smell negatively impact the quality of life for residents/locals?
  • How often does the smell reoccur?
  • What type of smell is it?

The council will use the above factors to determine whether or not a smell qualifies as a ‘statutory nuisance.’

For a smell to qualify as a statutory nuisance, it must:

  • Greatly interfere with the enjoyment or use of a home/premise
  • Damage health or be likely to damage health

To further assess the smell, the council will use at least two human ‘sniffers.’

The sniffers will assess the propensity of the smell, its character, its offensiveness and emission rate.


  1. What happens when a smell qualifies as a statutory nuisance?

If the council reaches an agreement that a smell qualifies as a statutory nuisance, they will serve an abatement notice.

An abatement notice will require the responsible parties to clamp down on the smell or to restrict it completely.

The council will usually serve the notice to the individual(s) responsible. However, they can also serve the notice to the owner of the premise.

Familiarise yourself with abatement notices by reading our recent, in-depth article here.


Before you go

Here at Parsons, we are aware of how difficult it is for some businesses to effectively keep tabs on their odour emissions, and stay clear of abatement notices.

We have a solution to help businesses reduce air pollution.

To help businesses clamp down on odour emissions, we apply the use of wet scrubbing.

Wet scrubbers are effective pollution control systems that can help you remove the gases and particles in your industrial exhaust streams.

In wet scrubbing, wet scrubbers bring unclean gas streams into contact with scrubbing liquids (typically Sodium Hypochlorite and Sodium Hydroxide)

By absorption, the scrubbing liquid will then capture the polluted gases and particulates.

Want to learn more about how our wet scrubbing systems can help you reduce the odour emissions from your business process? Learn more about our wet scrubbers here.

Alternatively, you can get in touch with our team to discuss your requirements.

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