Air Quality Complaints

We have a range of different powers to investigate complaints relating to local air quality throughout the district, coming from various pieces of legislation. 

Statutory nuisance

If you find yourself affected by smoke, dust or odour from neighbouring residential or commercial property, we can investigate under the Environmental Protection Act 1990. In particular, statutory nuisance, which covers:
  • Smoke 
  • Fumes or gases emitted from premises 
  • Dust, steam, smell etc. from industrial, trade or business premises
  • Accumulations or deposits
  • Animals
  • Premises
  • Insect infestations from industrial, trade or business premises
  • Artificial light
  • Noise
  • Premises
For the issue to constitute a statutory nuisance it must be:
Unreasonably and substantially interfere with the use or enjoyment of a home or other premises – there is no set definition of a nuisance within legislation – it is based on the judgement of a professional officer and case law.
When looking at a nuisance complaint, we will consider:
  • Impact
  • Nature
  • Frequency
  • Duration
  • Time of day/night
  • Sensitivity
  • Public benefit
  • Best practicable means
Prejudicial to health – legislation defines this as being injurious to health or be likely to injure health. 

Smoke and bonfires

Bonfires are often used to dispose of unwanted green waste, but they are a common cause of complaints to the Council. Bonfires can pose a risk to health and worsen air quality. It is an offence to cause a nuisance from a bonfire. Smoke from other appliances such as wood burning stoves, chimineas and fire pits can also cause a nuisance and pollution.
To avoid causing a smoke nuisance you can follow these simple steps:
  • Only burn dry materials – nothing green or fresh.
  • Never burn household waste or anything that contains paint, plastic or foam.
  • Never use oil, petrol or any ignition fluid to light a fire – it is unsafe and harmful to the environment.
  • Avoid lighting fires in unsuitable weather conditions – on damp, still days smoke can hang in the air, and on windy days smoke may blow across into neighbouring gardens and properties. 
  • Avoid burning and lighting fires near to residential properties.
  • Speak with your neighbours to let them know you are going to have a fire – most people are not aware they are causing a nuisance.
  • Avoid burning when your neighbours are enjoying their gardens, have washing out and windows open.
  • Burn later on in the day, such as dusk or on an evening where neighbours are less likely to be out enjoying the garden.
  • Never leave a fire unattended or leave it to smoulder.
If you are affected by a bonfire or burning, it is best to approach the person causing it and politely make them aware. Often people are not aware they are causing a nuisance and may be more considerate in the future. 
If this fails and the issue continues, you should contact us. It is an offence to emit smoke, fumes or gases which are a nuisance. However, if a fire is a one-off it may be difficult to prove a statutory nuisance. 
If the smoke is caused by an industrial or trade premises or burning trade waste creating dark smoke, it may be an offence under the Clean Air Act 1993. 
If you would like to make a complaint you can report it here.
Further information on bonfires, waste burning and suitable alternatives can be found here

Odour and Dust

We are unable to investigate complaints relating to dust and odour from residential premises. We may however be able to deal with certain causes of odour or dust such as accumulations of waste, bonfires or if it relates to emissions from heating appliances.
Statutory nuisance of dust and odour only applies to commercial sources of dust.  This could be work carried out by builders on a domestic property, demolition work or works carried out on a commercial property.
Best practicable means should be employed at all times to prevent dust and odour emissions. If your business is covered by an Environmental Permit, there most likely will be conditions which cover dust and odour emissions. 
The Council has no powers regarding dust deposits on roads. This is a North Yorkshire County Council responsibility and will be investigated if the deposits are endangering safety to road users.