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How to prevent an odour nuisance

Use this page to find out how you can reduce and prevent odour and dust nuisances.

Odour nuisance guidance

Odours, dust and soot from industrial premises can affect peoples’ enjoyment of their homes and become a nuisance.

How we decide if odours or dust are a statutory nuisance

To be considered a statutory nuisance, it must be clear that the nuisance has a significant impact on people nearby.

We will assess the following factors to decide if a complaint is a statutory nuisance:

  • The times at which it happens
  • How often it happens 
  • How long it lasts 
  • The intensity of the nuisance 
  • The location and characteristics of the area 

How to avoid causing a nuisance

There are several things you can do to avoid causing a nuisance:

  • Identify the odour or dust source and how it may reach residents
  • Block gaps where odours or dust are leaking out using covers
  • Use odour or dust suppresants
  • Install suitable extraction systems
  • Maintain and clean equipment regularly
  • Limit how often odorous or dusty activities take place
  • Be mindful of wind direction

Select a topic below for guidance and practical advice about how to reduce nuisances and prevent them in various settings.

Restaurants, takeaways, pubs and cafes

A suitable filtration or extraction system can help to minimise odours from cooking.

In hot weather, the smell from bins can be very unpleasant. We advise businesses to take the following steps:

  • Empty bins on a regular basis
  • Bag all waste and tie it up before placing it in bins
  • Place bins out of direct sunlight
  • Keep bin lids closed to prevent flies and animals getting in
  • Wash bin interiors weekly with hot soapy water or disinfectant
  • Lock your bins
  • Don't leave waste bags on the ground or leave bin lids open
  • Don't allow waste to build up in your premises

Factories and industrial premises

The correct extraction and filtration equipment and other best practices can usually deal with odours from factories.

Some processes or activities require an Environmental Permit. This will contain conditions relating to odour control.

Find out more about odour controls and Environmental Permits on the Environment Agency website.

Muck and manure spreading on farms

Odours arising from farming activities are quite common. These can occur when farmers spread fertilisers or soil conditioners onto the field (also known as muck spreading).

There are no limits on how often farmers can spread muck and manure, and they can do this at any time of the day.

We encourage farmers to use DEFRA's Code of Good Agricultural Practice for the Protection of Water, Air and Soil to minimise when muck spreading.