Odour pollution

We have a duty to investigate complaints about smells from industrial, trade and business premises that could be a 'statutory nuisance'. Find out how to report nuisance smells.

We can take action where a nuisance is found to exist in two areas: 

  • fumes from domestic boilers 
  • odour/fumes from industrial, trade or business premises 

We have no powers to deal with odours from domestic premises. 

You will be asked to keep a record of what you can smell, for how long and at what time of day. We will use this information to decide if there is a pattern to the problem and then seek to find the cause and resolve the issue. 

If the smell is causing a statutory nuisance, a notice to take action may be served. Sometimes, however, nothing more can be done. If you live close to sewage works, farmland on which slurry is spread, or a rubbish tip, for example, smells will happen from time to time. All we can do is advise the operator to do what they reasonably can to minimise those smells.

Making a complaint about odours

Contact us to report an odour problem.

Reporting other odours

Drains and sewers

A toilet that is backing up, overflowing drains or foul smells in the area around drains are all indications of a blocked or damaged drain or gully. 

A drain is classed as a single pipeline, which conveys foul sewerage or surface water from a single property. It is the responsibility of the owner-occupier to maintain and clear a private drain. Where problems occur to your own drain, seek advice from an appropriate contractor and your insurance company to see if you are covered by your policy. If the property is rented then it may be the landlord's responsibility, depending on where the blockage is. 

For problems regarding sewers contact your local water supplier: 

Highway drains 

For problems involving a highway drainage or flood, please contact North Yorkshire Council Highways. 

Visit Highways drains and gully clearing.

Private drains 

For private drainage like septic tanks or problems caused from neighbours’ property, we have a statutory duty in the interests of public health to ensure that blocked and foul-smelling private drains are cleared. There are a number of laws covering this area including Public Health Acts and The Building Act. Where works are carried out in default, all costs incurred will be recovered from the property owner. 

Gas and petrol

Gas odours or any suspected gas leak must be reported immediately to National Grid on 0800 111 999. 

Their advice is: 

  • turn off the gas supply at the mains 
  • open doors and windows 
  • do not switch anything electrical on or off, including the lights 
  • do not smoke, strike matches or light candles 

Petrol leak 

If you can smell petrol, suspect a petrol leak locally or suspect someone has poured petrol into a drain, contact the Fire and Rescue Service on 999.

Solvents and chemicals

These types of odours can arise from various sources including industrial or commercial units that handle solvents and chemicals, and can be a source of irritation for residents. 

We can serve a legal notice on the person(s) responsible for the nuisance where we are satisfied it is affecting health and wellbeing and can prosecute if they don't comply with the notice. 

Further information 

Noise pollution

Light pollution