Nuisances - General

The Council has powers to deal with nuisances within the District.  Nuisance is a very complex subject.  It exists in both common law and criminal law, there are forms of public and private nuisance, and a great deal of applicable case law.  Council's have been dealing with nuisances since the first Inspector of Nuisances was appointed in 1844.

Today, the Council deals with most nuisances under criminal law, as a statutory nuisance.  Most of these powers are contained within the Environmental Protection Act 1990.  

What is a statutory nuisance?

For something to be a statutory nuisance it must either be prejudicial to health or a nuisance in common law terms.  Nuisance can broadly be defined as something that unreasonably and substantially interferes with the use or enjoyment of a home or other premises.

What are the possible types of statutory nuisance?

The following can all constitute a statutory nuisance:

  • Premises in such a state
  • Smoke from premises
  • Fumes or gases from dwellings
  • Dust, steam, smell or other effluvia from industrial, trade or business premises
  • An accumulation or deposit
  • An animal kept in such a place or manner 
  • Artificial light from premises
  • Noise from premises
  • Noise from a vehicle, machinery or equipment in a street (but not including road traffic)
  • Insects from industrial, trade or business premises

How can I resolve a problem affecting me?

In the vast majority of cases, it is better that you speak to the person responsible for the nuisance in the first instance.  They will often not know the affect they are having on others, and will welcome the opportunity to resolve it early rather than the Council becoming involved.  If this does not resolve the matter, or there is a good reason why you are not comfortable speaking to the person responsible, you can contact the Council.

What will the Council do?

Our officers will assess your complaint to determine whether a statutory nuisance might exist.  This may involve an investigation over a period of time.  If the officer determines that it is a statutory nuisance, an abatement notice will usually be served on the person responsible.  This will usually require the person to stop or restrict the nuisance, or stop it from occurring again.  It is a criminal offence to fail to comply with an abatement notice, and the maximum penalty upon summary conviction is an unlimited fine.  The Council can also take action to secure compliance with the abatement notice, for example by entering premises and seizing items that produce noise.    

Can I take my own action?

Yes.  Under Section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 you are entitled to make a complaint about a nuisance to a Magistrates' Court.  This is a relatively simple and inexpensive process.  You do not need a solicitor, although seeking legal advice is advisable.  The court has similar powers to the Council to stop the nuisance.   

Contact Environmental Health

Telephone 01543 462621 or email

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