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Statutory Nuisance

There is not a strict definition of a “statutory nuisance”, but it is generally regarded as a substantial interference with a person’s legitimate use and enjoyment of their land. Everyone has a duty to avoid causing a statutory nuisance, which will adversely affect a person’s wellbeing and enjoyment of their property.

Matters than can be considered as statutory nuisance are set out in Section 79(1) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 as follows:

  1. any premises in such a state as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance;

  2. smoke emitted from premises so as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance;

  3. fumes or gases emitted from premises so as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance;

  4. any dust, steam, smell or other effluvia arising on industrial, trade or business premises and being prejudicial to health or a nuisance;

  5. any accumulation or deposit which is prejudicial to health or a nuisance;

  6. any animal kept in such a place or manner as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance;

  7. any insects emanating from relevant industrial, trade or business premises and being prejudicial to health or a nuisance;

  8. artificial light emitted from premises so as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance;

  9. noise emitted from premises so as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance;

  10. noise that is prejudicial to health or a nuisance and is emitted from or caused by a vehicle, machinery or equipment in a street;

  11. any other matter declared by any enactment to be a statutory nuisance;

There are certain things that cannot be considered to be a statutory nuisance such as road traffic noise from moving vehicles or odour arising from domestic premises.

There is no set threshold at which something becomes a nuisance. In deciding whether a statutory nuisance exists an investigating officer would consider factors including:

  • the locality in which the noise is occurring

  • the time of day or night the noise is occurring

  • the loudness and duration of the noise

  • how often the noise occurs

What happens if the Council is satisfied that a Statutory Nuisance exists, has occurred or may recur?

In the majority of cases complaints are resolved informally before formal action is instigated. However, if the Council is satisfied that something amounts to a statutory nuisance then an “abatement notice” will be served.

The notice will require the person responsible to take the necessary action to prevent the nuisance from continuing or recurring. A person on whom such a notice is served has a right of appeal to a magistrates’ court within 21 days of it being served. A breach of an abatement notice is an offence under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, and may result in legal action being taken against those responsible by the council.