Smoke, dust and fumes

We have powers to deal with smoke, dust or fumes that amount to a statutory nuisance under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, Section 79. Statutory nuisance is not easily defined, in general terms it is 'something that interferes unreasonably with your enjoyment of your property, a regular disturbance that continues sufficiently to be deemed unreasonable'.

One-off occurrences such as dust from an initial site clearance, or occasional bonfires are unlikely to be considered a statutory nuisance.

Dark smoke emitted from industrial or trade premises (vehicle tyres being burned on commercial premises for example) is an offence under the Clean Air Act 1993 and would need to be witnessed by an officer from our Environmental Protection team at the earliest opportunity.


Bonfires produce smoke, toxic chemicals and can cause annoyance to neighbours. Much of the rubbish we create can be recycled - please recycle your garden waste or consider home composting.

Lighting a bonfire should be a last resort when there is no other suitable means of disposal. Our Garden Bonfires leaflet provides guidance for lighting bonfires and explains what you can do if a bonfire affects you.

What should I do if I have a problem with smoke, dust or fumes?

Often, the best method is to approach the person responsible and explain politely that you are being troubled by the smoke, dust or fumes. In most cases, people are unaware of the problem they are causing.

We will probably ask you to complete a complaint record form, noting the times and dates of occurrences, and to return it to us within 21 days. This information enables us to target our monitoring visits to times we are most likely to witness an occurrence of the problem and can also be quoted in court if legal action is taken.

If we cannot assist you following our investigation, you may wish to take your own private action for nuisance through the Magistrates' Court without involving the Council.