Odours and fumes

Nuisance smells seriously affect you in your home and can threaten your health

What are nuisance odours?

Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, we can investigate odours and fumes (smells) from industrial trade or business premises.

Smells are classed as a statutory nuisance when they seriously affect a person's use or enjoyment of their property and/or threaten health. Nuisance smells must occur continuously and frequently. We cannot take action on smells that only last for a few minutes, don't happen often, don’t affect a person's use or enjoyment of their property, or don’t threaten health.

We cannot deal with smells coming from someone’s home under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

Report an odour or fume nuisance


If you smell gas:

  • get fresh air immediately – leave the property or open all windows and doors
  • if you can access it easily, switch off the gas emergency control valve (shut-off valve)
  • extinguish all naked flames; do not smoke
  • don't use electrical switches (including light switches)
  • contact the national gas emergency service on 0800 111 999
  • follow the advice they give you
  • if you are feeling unwell, get medical help immediately
  • don't turn the gas supply on until it has been checked by a gas safety engineer


Property owners are usually responsible for maintaining drains at their properties. Thames Water owns and manages the network of public foul and surface water sewers. You should contact them for advice about drains.

Food outlets

If you run a food business, you should contact us if you are concerned about the possibility of nuisance smells from your premises. We can advise you on extraction and filtration systems.

In summer, warmer weather can cause an increase in smells from bins containing waste food. Bins may also attract flies and vermin. At these times, people who own takeaway restaurants and other commercial food premises are advised to:

  • arrange for bins to be emptied more often
  • bag all waste, making sure the bags are tightly tied before being placed in a bin
  • place bins out of direct sunlight
  • keep bin lids closed to prevent flies and animals getting in
  • ensure bins are well-maintained
  • wash the inside of bins every week with hot soapy water and/or disinfectant

Muck spreading or manure

Muck or manure spreading is a standard agricultural practice. Hart has a lot of agricultural land, so smells from this activity must be expected from time to time.

The spreading of pre-treated sewage sludge is lawful. The sludge is pre-treated and poses no risk to human health.

We will not investigate odour complaints relating to these activities unless the smell is excessive. Farm owners, and anyone involved in farm work, are advised to visit DEFRA’s website for advice on protecting our water, soil and air to minimise odour when muck spreading.