Noise pollution, odour and other nuisances

Types of nuisance


There are two main types of nuisance that your business can cause:

  • statutory nuisance
  • common law nuisance

What is a statutory nuisance?

Nuisances caused by certain activities set out in legislation are called statutory nuisances. A statutory nuisance can be caused by:

  • noise and vibration
  • smoke, fumes or gases
  • dust
  • steam
  • odours
  • kept animals
  • waste deposits, for example with the risk of vermin
  • poor state of premises
  • foul, stagnant or obstructed water
  • insects coming from your business premises
  • artificial lighting

Your local council can serve you with an abatement notice if your local environmental health officer finds that a statutory nuisance exists or is likely to occur or recur.

An abatement notice can require you to:

  • stop causing a nuisance or impose restrictions on your operations to prevent any further occurrence
  • carry out works or take other steps to restrict or remove the nuisance

An abatement notice is a legal document and if you do not comply with it you could be prosecuted.

Individuals can also bring a statutory nuisance case to court.

What is a common law nuisance?

If you cause a nuisance that causes harm to people or damages property you may be causing a private nuisance and could be sued by individuals or organisations. You may have to attend a court hearing and pay compensation or damages.

If the nuisance is affecting a public space or a large number of people, you may be causing a public nuisance. You may have to pay compensation or damages. Your local council may also take action against you to restrict your activities or prosecute you.

If the nuisance occurs because of a structural defect on your premises, action may be taken against you as the owner of the premises, even if you're not the person responsible for causing the nuisance. Action may be taken against you if the person responsible for causing the nuisance cannot be found. You can also be found liable if the nuisance has not yet occurred but is likely to occur.