Borough Council of Wellingborough

Nuisance (Odour, bonfires etc)

Nuisance complaints

There are a number of nuisance problems that we have legal powers to deal and assist you with. These include:

  • Accumulation of rubbish
  • Asbestos
  • Light
  • Odours
  • Smoke and bonfires
  • Insecure buildings

Information on each of these is provided below, along with advice on how to report a nuisance and provide evidence to us.

Please note that we have a separate, specific page for noise nuisance

In all cases we suggest you try talking to the person responsible for the nuisance and discuss the problem. If this is not successful in resolving the issue you should report it to the council. The council will require information from you before we can commence an investigation.

Report a nuisance and evidence

You may make your complaint either in writing, by telephone or by completing an online report form.

Providing evidence of the nuisance

If you are suffering from a nuisance problem evidence will need to be provided to an environmental protection officer, unless you decide to take private action, see below.

For an ongoing case this will involve providing nuisance record sheets and arranging for officers to visit to witness the problem.

There are now opportunities using commonly available household devices to supplement this information at any stage of a complaint by gathering video or photographic evidence at the time the nuisance is happening and providing it to us.

  • You need to be aware that while this will be very useful information it will not allow the officer to determine if the problem constitutes a statutory nuisance and officers will need to assess this against usual standards.
  • Your evidence needs to be true, to the best of your knowledge and belief, and any recordings must not be fabricated or doctored.
  • When taking video or photographic evidence, you must try to capture the problem from your property. You should not risk being accused of snooping on them or infringing their human rights.

How do I do this?

Visual evidence can be gathered using a number of methods:

  • mobile phones (especially smart phones)
  • digital video cameras
  • digital cameras

Details on how to make a video or audio clip can be found in the manufacturer's instruction manual (either printed or online). This evidence can then be uploaded to your computer (via e-mail, cable attachment or SD card) and then submitted to us using the online report form.

Smoke and Bonfires

Domestic Bonfires

Garden bonfires can be very annoying to neighbours particularly if they happen regularly and the materials burnt cause a lot of smoke. They can prevent others from enjoying their gardens and ruin a line of clean washing.

There are now many alternatives to burning, such as home composting and the various collections and recycling services offered by this Council and Northamptonshire County Council at its recycling centres.

If you do need to have a bonfire it should only be on a very infrequent basis, care should be taken in what you burn; you should have regard to neighbours and preferably advise them of your intentions.

If a neighbour causes a nuisance by having a bonfire it is usually best to approach them yourself and see if you can resolve the problem.

If this is unsuccessful contact the Environmental Protection section and they will investigate your complaint. The Council has powers under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to abate smoke nuisances where there is a regular or severe problem such that it is considered to interfere with the use or enjoyment of your property.

The Council has produced a leaflet on 'Garden Bonfires' which can be downloaded or sent to you on request.
Contrary to many peoples perceptions there are no times of day when bonfires are prohibited.

Dark Smoke

The burning of material at industrial or commercial premises which causes dark smoke is an offence under the Clean Air Act, 1993. Please report any incidents of dark smoke to the Environmental Protection section when they occur.

Smoke Control

There are no smoke control areas in the Borough and therefore no requirement to burn smokeless fuel on open fires or appliances.

However, if unsuitable materials are burnt this may cause smoke nuisance which should be reported to the Environmental Protection team.

Odours

If you are troubled by odours you may report this to the Environmental Protection Section for investigation.

Domestic Sources

Odours that arise at your property due to the keeping of animals, etc at a nearby property can be investigated and action taken if appropriate. As with all complaints it will be preferable if you speak to the responsible party to try to resolve the problem before reporting it.

Commercial Industrial and Agricultural Odours

Regular odours from the above sources can be investigated and action taken if appropriate. It will help if you can identify where the problem arises and bear in mind that an occasional agricultural odour in rural areas for example will not be a problem we would be able to take action over.
Please contact Environmental Protection to report your problem.

Accumulations of rubbish

If you have a problem with accumulations of household rubbish on domestic or commercial land please report this to the Environmental Protection section, this does not apply to inert material such as rubble etc..

To report flytipping of waste in public areas or litter in streets or open land please contact Customer Services.

Asbestos

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring silicate material.  It has been used in domestic situations for many years and may be found in domestic appliances and buildings.  It may cause diseases, in particular forms of cancer, but these are usually related to industrial work.

While asbestos is potentially a very hazardous material, the risk to the public from asbestos in the home and public buildings is low, provided it is in a good physical state and is treated with respect.

How does asbestos cause injury to your body?

Asbestos fibres are very small and may be inhaled or ingested.  Although the body may expel most of the fibres prolonged exposure increases the risk, and any exposure should be kept to a minimum. Fibres cannot penetrate the skin via contact but exposure increases the risk via other routes.

Where is it found?

It is very difficult to identify asbestos and any material which is believed may contain it, labelled or not, should be treated with caution.

However, most asbestos containing materials can be left in place if they are in good condition and particularly if covered with a coat of paint.

Working with asbestos

Asbestos is best not disturbed in any way.  If it is necessary to dismantle asbestos items at home it is preferable if a specialist contractor carries this out.  Details of some contractors are included in the Yellow Pages.  All work carried out by contractors must be carried out in accordance with the Health & Safety at Work Act and may need to be done by a licensed contractor.  A local builder is unlikely to have the experience and expertise to carry out the work properly.  A contractor who carries out the work without due care is liable to legal action.

For enquiries about asbestos at work contact: Health and Safety Executive

Caution: You should be aware that if you do not take adequate precautions in carrying out the work you may be putting yourself and other resident's health at risk.  In this case you could be liable for prosecution by the Council for nuisance and private claims for damages.

Further information on asbestos and how to dispose of the waste can be found under Waste and Recycling pages - Special Waste.

Light nuisance

Over recent years the need for extra security has led to more lighting of domestic and business premises. If badly positioned, designed or adjusted this can have an adverse effect on other nearby premises.

Is this the same as "Light Pollution"?
No. While it could occur from the same source the powers available to the Council do not extend to tackling the issues of sky glow affecting the night sky.

What do the powers cover?

The powers in relation to statutory nuisance for light nuisance require the Council to investigate complaints of light nuisance and take action where satisfied that a nuisance exists. This will depend upon the effect the light has upon other parties but will include consideration of other factions such as, duration, frequency, etc.

Does it cover light from all sources?

No. There are a large number of sources of lighting for which action cannot be taken, including railway, bus stations, prisons, defence premises, goods vehicle operating centres. In addition formal action will not be possible in respect of street lighting.

Domestic Security Lighting

This is the area for which most complaints are likely, due to the effects of lighting on neighbours.
In order to ensure that domestic security lighting does not cause complaint the following measures should be used. For example:

  • Could a light without a light sensor be fitted?
  • Consider is the lighting necessary?
  • Can the times of operation be limited?
  • Adjust the lights to shine downwards and limit the spill to the target area. Adjust the security sensors to limit the area in which movement is detected.
  • Limit the power of the lamp to 150w. Higher power causes more glare which does not help security.

Commercial Security Lighting

For factories, warehouses, shops and licensed premises the same principles for reducing complaints apply. However in commercial premises and most sports facilities the defence of best practicable means would apply if action were to be taken.

How do I complain about lighting?

You may wish to contact the person who is responsible for the light, show them this information and request their co-operation. Otherwise you can contact the Council for advice and to report the problem on 01933 231960.

Insecure Buildings

If a building is unoccupied and insecure then the Council has powers to ensure that this is remedied so that trespassers cannot enter. This applies to the building itself and we cannot necessarily require the owner to put up site fences although we will request it if it is appropriate.

Please contact Environmental Protection to report your problem.