Nuisance Reports During Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak

Due to the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic Government Guidelines we are unable to carry out visits in response to nuisance reports at this time.

We would like to encourage all residents to be considerate towards their neighbours during these extraordinary times, and if you are being affected by a nuisance caused by a neighbouring property we would encourage you to contact your neighbour informally to let them know that they are causing you a problem.

Contacting your neighbour must be done in a way that meets the government’s current social distancing rules. You could write your neighbour a letter, or speak with them on the telephone. We have letter templates here which can help you with this

You might also be able to take your mind off the issue by finding distractions within your home.

If you have tried the above and are still experiencing the problem or feel it is not appropriate, we are able to give you advice on nuisance issues over the phone; please contact us via email at EnvironmentalHealth@swdevon.gov.uk. We are unable to investigate anonymous reports.

What is an odour nuisance?

For a smell to count as a statutory nuisance it must do one of the following:

  • Unreasonably and substantially interfere with the use or enjoyment of a home or other premises;
  • Injure health or be likely to injure health.

If a statutory nuisance is happening, has happened or will happen in the future, the Council can serve an abatement notice. This requires the person responsible to stop or restrict the smell.

Statutory nuisance laws don't apply to smells from residential properties.


What sort of things might be considered a nuisance?

Nuisance smells can be caused by:

  • Agricultural practices like spreading slurry onto land;
  • Sewage handling facilities;
  • Food processors and commercial kitchens;
  • Animals, livestock and poultry;
  • Slaughterhouses, abattoirs and rendering plants;
  • Paints and solvents from garages or workshops.

How does the Council investigate nuisance smells?

To work out whether a smell is a statutory nuisance, the Council will consider one or more of the following:

  • Where the smell is coming from;
  • The character of the area;
  • The number of people affected;
  • If the smell interferes with the quality of life of people nearby - do they avoid using their gardens or opening windows?
  • How often the smell is present;
  • The characteristics of the smell;

Wind and weather conditions will be taken into account as this can cause variations in smells. We may also ask you to keep a diary recording how often you perceive the smell and its effect on you.


How can I report a nuisance odour?

Please complete  as fully as possible, and an officer will be in touch.