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Reporting nuisance behaviour (Noise, smoke, light, smells and waste in gardens)


There are many behaviours and activities that can be described as a nuisance, however legal action can only be taken when this causes unreasonable interference with a person’s use or enjoyment of property or they are damaging to health.

To report a crime go to Humberside Police .

Types of nuisance

See our noise problems page for advice about how to deal with a noise nuisance.

Smoke nuisance

It is not an offence to light a garden bonfire. It is however an offence under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to cause a statutory smoke nuisance.

A statutory nuisance will occur when smoke causes unreasonable interference with a person’s use or enjoyment of their property on a regular basis. Smoke nuisance can occur at any time of the day or night.

When to report a problem

If you believe the fire to be more than a domestic garden bonfire and it is either unattended or out of control please contact the emergency services directly on 999.

There are no set times when it is acceptable to light a fire but because smoke does not usually rise so high at night, you should avoid lighting a bonfire an hour before sunset and any existing fires should not be allowed to burn for an hour after sunset. This will reduce the likelihood of smoke causing a problem. If smoke coming from regular fires are causing you a problem you should try to talk to the parties involved.

If this is not possible or does not result in a mutual agreement then please report the issue using the Smoke nuisance  form.

You will need to give us your details so we can keep you updated, but we will treat your report in confidence. You will be sent a diary to complete, and once returned, officers will review the information and determine a course of action.

Artificial light may become a statutory nuisance where it is excessive in relation to its purpose or where the source is poorly designed or directed. In many cases simple remedies such as re-aiming or screening are sufficient to solve a problem.

Examples of light nuisance from domestic or commercial properties are flood lights or home security lights. Incidents with lasers which could hazard aircraft should be reported to air traffic control. Christmas tree lights are not deemed a statutory nuisance and NELC is unable to take action in these cases.

Report a light nuisance to us by completing the online form for Light nuisance .

If you wish to report a problem with a street light then please use our Street lighting  form.

A build up of rubbish and badly overgrown gardens can have a negative affect on the neighbourhood.

It becomes a nuisance when it begins to smell, encouraged vermin or is unsightly.

My neighbours garden contains rubbish, is there anything the Council can do?

If you believe the rubbish is attracting vermin or contains food waste you need to report using the online form. If the rubbish is inert i.e. wood, rubble, metal and is not likely to cause any issues, it is unlikely that that we will be able to take any action but you  can complete the form if you have further issues you wish to raise. You should state how this is affecting you or your family. Officers will go and investigate and take further action if appropriate.

My neighbours garden is overgrown what can I do about it?

A garden that is simply overgrown and/or untidy does not constitute a statutory nuisance and will not be investigated unless there is a possibility of it harbouring vermin.

My neighbour allows their pet(s) to foul in the garden and doesn’t clean it up, what should I do?

Firstly, speak to your neighbour and advise them of how it is affecting you, if they refuse to do anything, you can report it using the online form. We will investigate and where appropriate take action.

What should you do?

Try to talk to the parties involved. If this is not possible or does not result in a mutual agreement, please complete our online form Waste in gardens .

Our officers will attend as soon as practicable. If they deem the issue to be causing a nuisance they will engage with the party involved. They are well trained to work within the bounds of the legislation.

For information on dealing with vermin read our vermin advice.

Every spring and autumn we receive lots of odour complaints concerning the spreading of manure on farmland.

‘Muck spreading’ is recognised as standard agricultural practice, and as our area has a large portion of working farmland, these smells must reasonably be expected from time to time.

The spreading of pre-treated sewage sludge is a perfectly lawful activity and considered the Best Practicable Environmental Option for disposal. As the sludge is pre-treated prior to spreading it poses no risk to human health.

The Council is unlikely to take formal action in relation to these activities unless the smell is prolonged and excessive. Farmers are encouraged to comply with the Regulations, guidelines and codes of practice governing the use of sewage sludge, slurry and silage on agricultural land to minimise odour.

Spreading can only be undertaken in fair weather. Ploughing in wet, cold or frozen ground is not feasible.

The growing season dictates that most crops are harvested in summer and ploughing in of manures follows almost immediately. This is to replenish the soil ready for the following year.

Unfortunately, this means that spreading is most likely to occur at times when people will want to have their windows open or be relaxing in their gardens.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has a Code of Good Agricultural Practice for Farmers, Growers and Land managers.

The code is a practical guide to help farmers protect the
environment in which they operate.

If there is a significant odour over a prolonged period, an Officer may visit the area to assess the extent and severity of the odour.

It is unlikely that legal action will be taken against agricultural odours in a countryside location, unless the odour is unreasonably excessive and is identified as being the result of bad agricultural practices.

To get further advice on agricultural odour issues please contact the Environment Teamby phone on 01472 325823 or by email at environmentteam@nelincs.gov.uk.

In addition to noise, smoke, smell and light nuisances The Environmental Protection Act 1990 describes a number of other activities and behaviours which can become a statutory nuisance.

What should you do?

You are encouraged to speak to the owner of the source to attempt to find a solution.

If this is not possible or does not result in a mutual agreement then please contact Community Pride using the relevant reporting form. Yours details are required so we can keep you updated but will be treated in confidence. Our officers will contact you discuss the problem and visit if this is considered necessary. If they consider a nuisance is occurring they will engage with the party involved.

If there are no forms which cover the nuisance you are reporting please contact us using the contact details below.


Related content

Noise problems

Related websites

Anti-social behaviour

Contact details

Telephone: 01472 326300 option 3

Call centre opening times: Monday to Friday 8:30am to 5pm, except bank holidays