Richmondshire District Council

We have a duty to investigate complaints of what is called "statutory nuisance" 

This may include:

  • Noise from domestic or business premises and from vehicles and equipment in the street
  • Artificial light
  • Odour from industrial, trade or business premises
  • Insects from industrial, trade or business premises
  • Smoke from bonfires and chimneys in domestic and business premises
  • Dust from industrial, trade or business premises
  • Premises that are prejudicial to health or a nuisance
  • Fumes or gases from domestic dwellings
  • Accumulations or deposits on premises, such as piles of rotting rubbish
  • Animals kept in a way that prejudices health or is a nuisance, for example barking dogs


If you're bothered by a nuisance, speak to those responsible and explain the problem. They m
ay not be aware they're causing you distress.

If that doesn't work, consider mediation. And if that's not an option, or doesn't work, contact our environmental health team.

We receive many complaints about statutory nuisance and adopt a balanced and managed approach to dealing with them, seeking to resolve most cases informally.

A statutory nuisance must have a significant and unreasonable effect on the way you use and enjoy your property. It's more than annoyance or visual detection of a nuisance.

Report a nuisance 


How we proceed

First, we write to the person responsible for the nuisance advising them that a complaint has been received. We'll provide details of the type of nuisance and request their cooperation in preventing further complaints. We aim to do this within five working days of the complaint being received.

All complainants’ details are kept confidential and aren't released to the nuisance-maker unless agreed. However, situations may occur where it will be self-evident who is affected.

Complainants will be sent a confirmation letter and monitoring forms. They will have to keep an accurate diary of the events, including the type of nuisance, the duration, time and date it occurred, and how it affected the way they use and enjoy their property, including the use of outside areas. If these forms aren't returned within six weeks the complaint will be closed.

If returned forms show ongoing nuisance, we will need to collect independent evidence by witnessing the nuisance and/or gathering photographic evidence. Complainants are asked to keep continuous records throughout the investigation.

If a statutory nuisance is found to exist, an abatement notice will be served to stop it happening again, or restrict the levels. The notice makes any further occurrence of the nuisance a criminal offence punishable on conviction in the magistrates' court by a fine.

If further formal action is necessary, we must be able to justify it in court. Complainants will be asked to provide a witness statement and may be required to attend court as a witness. However, this happens in a minority of cases. If you have a complaint and aren't prepared to go to court we may be unable to resolve the case.


Noise

Noise from neighbours is a common nuisance complaint received by our environmental health team.

The main problems arise from domestic activities such as barking dogs, loud music, TV, radio, shouting and DIY. No house or flat is totally soundproof and you shouldn’t expect total silence from your neighbours. But if you feel the noise is not an isolated incident and you're being seriously disturbed, it's not unreasonable for you to make a complaint.

What you should do

  • Speak to those responsible and explain the problem. They may not be aware they're causing you distress
  • Consider community mediation, where trained mediators will try to help you work things out 
  • If considering sound insulation or structural change to a property we can provide practical advice on noise reduction measures. 
  • If the noise maker rents the property, contact the landlord. Most tenancy agreements include a requirement not to cause nuisance. A breach of this can lead to eviction 
  • Contact the environmental health service for a formal noise investigation to be carried out. This involves a legal investigation under the Environmental Protection Act 1990

How we can help

We adopt a balanced and managed approach to noise complaints and seek to resolve most cases informally. Our environmental health staff will take all reasonable steps to investigate noise complaints. If a statutory noise nuisance is found to exist, a legal notice will be issued to make sure it stops.

A statutory noise nuisance is a significant and unreasonable emission of noise that substantially affects the way you use and enjoy your property. It's more than annoyance or the mere detection of a noise.

The procedure 

We'll write to the noise-maker advising that a complaint has been received and request co-operation in preventing further complaints. We aim to do this within five working days. 

All complainants’ details are kept confidential and are not released to the noise maker unless agreed. Situations may occur where it will be self-evident who is affected and has therefore complained. If you have concerns you may wish to discuss these with the case officer. 

As part of the investigation, you'll be required to keep an accurate diary of the noise disturbance, including the type of noise, its duration, time and date it occurred, and how it affected the way you use and enjoy your property. This can include outside areas. Diary forms will be sent out within five working days. 

If forms aren't returned within six weeks, the complaint will be closed. 

If completed forms show unreasonable noise disturbance, it will be necessary for an officer to collect independent evidence to substantiate this, such as witnessing the noise and/or installing noise recording equipment in your home.  

As part of this process, we will try to liaise with the noise-maker to try to secure improvements informally.

We also investigate noise complaints from commercial and industrial premises and construction sites. And we give advice on licence and planning applications to control noise before it becomes a problem.

  • Planning: Environmental health is consulted on applications for new or altered development and advises the planning officer about any potential noise problems and the best way these can be controlled. Noise from construction sites will mostly be controlled through planning, but environmental health can also make a developer carry out work in a quieter way
  • Licensing: Environmental health is consulted on applications for premises licenses and for temporary event notices. We will look at the impact of noise and recommend conditions for the licence, or object where we consider the noise will cause a public nuisance

Croft Circuit

We provide an information line (01748 901119) which advises on scheduled circuit activity for the coming week and provides provisional results for the previous week. The line is updated every Wednesday. 

The information can also be viewed here Croft Circuit


Artificial light

Artificial light nuisance can be caused if the following aren't maintained or used properly:

  • Security lights
  • Sports facilities, such as floodlit football pitches
  • Decorative lighting of buildings or landscapes
  • Laser show and light art


Nuisance laws don't apply to artificial light from:

  • Airports
  • Harbours
  • Railway and tramway premises
  • Bus stations
  • Public transport operating centres
  • Light goods vehicle operating centres
  • Lighthouses
  • Prisons
  • Defence premises, such as army bases
  • Premises occupied by visiting armed forces
  • Street lights

Odour

We'll investigate complaints about smells from industrial, trade or business premises.

Statutory nuisance law doesn't cover smells from domestic premises.

Nuisance smells can be caused by problems with:

  • Agricultural practices like spreading slurry or sludge onto land
  • Sewage handling facilities
  • Food processors and commercial kitchens, for example, if the extraction system is poor
  • Animals, livestock and poultry
  • Slaughterhouses, abattoirs and animal by-product rendering plants like pet food factories
  • Paints and solvents from garages or workshops, for example, if vents are poorly positioned
  • Unplanned spills, such as from vehicle accidents


If you're bothered by a nuisance, speak to those responsible and explain the problem. They m
ay not be aware they're causing you distress.

If that doesn't work, consider mediation. And if that's not an option, or doesn't work, contact our environmental health team.

We receive many complaints about statutory nuisance and adopt a balanced and managed approach to dealing with them, seeking to resolve most cases informally.

A statutory nuisance must have a significant and unreasonable effect on the way you use and enjoy your property. It's more than annoyance or visual detection of a nuisance.

How we proceed

First, we write to the person responsible for the nuisance advising them that a complaint has been received. We'll provide details of the type of nuisance and request their cooperation in preventing further complaints. We aim to do this within five working days of the complaint being received

All complainants’ details are kept confidential and aren't released to the nuisance-maker unless agreed. However, situations may occur where it will be self-evident who is affected

Complainants will be sent a confirmation letter and monitoring forms. They will have to keep an accurate diary of the events, including the type of nuisance, the duration, time and date it occurred, and how it affected the way they use and enjoy their property, including the use of outside areas. If these forms aren't returned within six weeks the complaint will be closed

If returned forms show ongoing nuisance, we will need to collect independent evidence by witnessing the nuisance and/or gathering photographic evidence. Complainants are asked to keep continuous records throughout the investigation.

If a statutory nuisance is found to exist, an abatement notice will be served to stop it happening again, or restrict the levels. The notice makes any further occurrence of the nuisance a criminal offence punishable on conviction in the magistrates' court by a fine

If further formal action is necessary, we must be able to justify it in court. Complainants will be asked to provide a witness statement and may be required to attend court as a witness. However, this happens in a minority of cases. If you have a complaint and aren't prepared to go to court we may be unable to resolve the case


Insects

We have a duty to investigate complaints of insect nuisance coming from industrial, trade or business premises. This does not, however, apply to insects coming from domestic premises.


Smoke

Smoke complaints can take many forms, such as:

  • Smoking chimneys: Domestic chimneys can cause a smoke nuisance
  • Burning of trade waste: Complaints are also received about commercial or trade premises burning waste. This is illegal

Domestic bonfires

Councils receive a large number of seasonal complaints each year about smoke from domestic bonfires.

There's a common misconception that there are specific byelaws that prohibit garden bonfires or specify times they can be lit. This is not the case. It is not illegal to have a bonfire.

But we have a duty to investigate complaints to decide if the level of burning, frequency or impact on health is a statutory nuisance.

Bonfire smoke can:

  • Be unpleasant and affect the enjoyment of their homes and gardens
  • Release gases including carbon monoxide, dioxins and particulates which are harmful to people and the atmosphere and can become ingrained in clothing and furnishings 
  • Aggravate breathing for asthma, bronchitis sufferers and young children, or cause problems for people with heart conditions


If you're lighting a bonfire:

  • Only burn dry material
  • Advise your nearest neighbours before you light a bonfire
  • Burn material quickly in small quantities so the minimum amount of smoke is created: an incinerator makes this much easier
  • Choose your bonfire site carefully, well away from trees, fences and windows. Beware of attempting to light bonfires on very windy days and have a hosepipe or buckets of water handy
  • Choose the time of day and weather conditions that will cause the least inconvenience to neighbours. Try to avoid bank holidays and weekends


Don't:

  • Burn damp grass clippings or “green” material as this creates thick smoke
  • Burn oily rags, rubber, and plastics which create heavy smoke or toxic fumes
  • Light a bonfire when your neighbours are drying washing, are out enjoying their gardens or have windows wide open
  • Light bonfires one hour before dusk, or leave them burning overnight as smoke hangs in the air on damp, still days and in the evening
  • Leave your fire to smoulder for long periods. And never leave a fire unattended. Douse it with water if necessary

How to complain

If bothered by smoke, first approach your neighbour and explain the problem. You might feel awkward, but they may not be aware of the distress they are causing and it will hopefully make them more considerate in the future.

If this fails, contact our environmental health team, who will take details of your complaint and make sure you get correct advice for the type of problem reported. 

Your details will be kept confidential but if your complaint is a recurring problem you may be asked to keep a diary of events to help investigating officers.

A to Z of Services