Noise pollution, odour and other nuisances

Good practice to avoid causing nuisance


You may have to pay compensation for any damage caused if you create a public or private nuisance. If you cause a statutory nuisance your local council may make you carry out, or pay for, work to stop or reduce the nuisance.

How to avoid causing a nuisance

Make sure that your business activities are not:

  • damaging, or likely to damage, people's health
  • preventing or interfering with people's rightful use and enjoyment of land
  • interfering with public space and public land

If you identify any nuisance you should take all reasonable steps to prevent or minimise it. To avoid causing a nuisance, you should:

  • check your site for waste or evidence of vermin regularly
  • check noise, odours and other emissions at the boundary, and in the locality, of your site - do this during different operating conditions and at different times of the day
  • ensure operations are managed in a controlled and consistent manner, and in accordance with all relevant permits, licences and registered waste exemptions
  • keep your site clean
  • tell your staff why they need to avoid creating a nuisance, and how they can do this

You should ensure that nuisance events do not become persistent and regular as this is more likely to result in legal action.

Try to maintain good relations with your neighbours. Give neighbours early warning of any particular activities that you plan to carry out, such as building work or installing new plant.

Notify your local council's environmental health department and your local Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) office in advance of any event that is likely to generate a nuisance that may cause complaints.

Display details of a contact person for your site so that local residents know who to contact with any concerns and you can deal with them quickly.

How to deal with complaints about nuisances

If you receive a complaint make sure you:

  • keep a record of the complaint
  • investigate the complaint, for example check the activity operation and the boundary of the site
  • deal with it promptly and appropriately, and tell the complainer what actions you have taken
  • record the results of investigations and any resulting actions
  • use the information to improve your procedures and prevent further complaints

You may want to inform your local council environmental health department and your local NIEA office of any complaints, depending on the nature of the complaint and what your permits, licences or registered waste exemptions require.

If a complaint is made to your local council, an environmental health officer will assess if you have caused a statutory nuisance. If a complaint is made to NIEA, officers will assess if you have breached your permit conditions.

Ask your local council's environmental health officer and NIEA to inform you of any concerns or complaints they receive. You may be able to deal with these complaints before formal action is taken.