Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

More nuisance topics

More nuisance guidance in alphabetical order

Additional resources

       

 What you must do

Your local council can take action against you if your activities create levels of artificial light that cause, or have the potential to cause disturbance to the surrounding community. If your Environmental Health Officer finds that a statutory nuisance exists or is likely to occur, or recur, your local council will serve you with an abatement notice. This notice can:

  • require you to abate the nuisance, ie to lessen or reduce the nuisance
  • prohibit or restrict the nuisance
  • require you to carry out works or other steps to abate, restrict or remove the nuisance.

Noise, odour and other nuisances

You should take action to reduce the risk of artificial light causing a nuisance to the local community.

Good practice

Angle artificial lighting away from nearby properties.

If you are not working after dark, assess whether you could use emergency lighting rather than artificial lighting on site.

What you must do

If your activities create levels of noise, dust or odour that could cause a nuisance or complaints from the surrounding community, your local environmental health department can:

  • restrict your operations
  • stop your operations
  • require you to take steps to reduce the nuisance.

Noise, odour and other nuisances

Smoke

Ensure you do not produce dark smoke from your premises. This could potentially create a visual nuisance, for example by blowing across a public highway. Dark smoke could be caused by your on site small waste oil burners or your furnaces for reprocessing metals.

All metals production and processing guidance

Oil recycling

Burning waste - your environmental responsibilities

You must not burn waste tyres, or any kind of waste on your site.

Good practice

Recycling equipment, machinery and processes

Composting, recycling and reprocessing processes which can create large volumes of dust include baling, granulation, shredding, and compaction. You should take steps to minimise the amount of dust that you produce.

Install dust extraction and suppression equipment on recycling machinery such as glass compactors or plastic balers.

Carry out your recycling processes under cover, to reduce the amount of dust being blown around your site. Regularly clean, sweep and maintain your recycling machinery and surrounding processing areas.

Minimise dirt and contaminants attached to materials for recycling. Wherever possible, clean materials before they enter your facilities for treatment or reprocessing.

Do not overload recycling machinery. This will increase stress, vibration and dust levels.

Noise, odour and other nuisances legislation

Recycling vehicles

Your vehicles may churn up dust from the ground, or shed dust from the materials they carry.

Close storage compartments on recycling collection vehicles as soon as your collections are complete. This is especially important for lighter materials such as paper, or compost. Store and transport your materials carefully to minimise the amount of dust and dirt produced.

Lay hard surfaces to protect dry ground from erosion by vehicles, and regularly sweep and clear points where your site accesses public highways.

Clean your vehicles regularly, and install wheel washing equipment at access points to your site. Ensure any contaminated cleaning water run-off is discharged legally, and does not contaminate land, surface waters or groundwater, for example if you allow water contaminated with detergent to flow into a stream.

Trade effluent - managing liquid wastes

Vehicle cleaning (including wheel washing)

Preventing water pollution

Collect rainwater runoff from your roofs and use this to dampen down dusty areas. Using collected rainwater can help to reduce your charges for the use of mains water. Install damping equipment to damp down your site during summer months.

Minimising your activities during periods of high wind or heat can reduce dust production. Enforce on site speed limits. Vehicles driving more slowly will create less dust and are less likely to spill materials on your site.

Storing materials for recycling

Store your materials under cover, to prevent dust blowing around your site. Use separate, concrete container bays to store different materials for recycling, and store treated, baled materials separately from unbaled materials. This will prevent dust or dirt from cross contaminating the clean baled materials, which are then likely be more financially valuable for recycling. Store materials away from reprocessing or treatment areas, where dust could contaminate them.

Communications

In general, most potential nuisance issues can be avoided by effective communications with your neighbours. Set up regular consultation days, when you invite neighbours to your site to learn more about your activities, and share views or concerns.

Further information

Noise, odour and other nuisances

Preventing air pollution

Dust and smoke from your waste or sewage site can have a negative impact on the local environment - for example, dust from landfills and waste transfer stations and smoke from incineration.

What you must do

Comply with your permit, licence or registered exemption

If your business has a permit, licence or exemption you must comply with its conditions, including any conditions that control dust or smoke emissions. If you do not comply with conditions you can be fined or sent to prison.

Does your waste or sewage business need a permit, licence or exemption?

Prevent nuisance

In Northern Ireland and Scotland, if your business creates dust, grit, steam, fumes, ash or smoke that cause or are likely to cause a nuisance or harm the health of your neighbours, your local council can issue you with an abatement notice that:

  • requires you to reduce the nuisance
  • stops or places restrictions on your operations
  • requires you to carry out work or take other steps to reduce or stop the nuisance from reoccurring.

Anyone affected by the nuisance, such as your neighbours, can apply to the court in Northern Ireland or the sheriff in Scotland to issue you with an abatement notice.

You can be fined if you do not comply with an abatement notice, and your local authority can take steps to stop the nuisance and charge you for its costs.

For further information, see our guidance on noise, odour and other nuisances.

Prevent dark smoke

You must not emit dark smoke from:

  • chimneys of any building
  • chimneys serving furnaces, fixed boilers or industrial plant, whether they are attached to buildings or not
  • any industrial or trade premises.

You might produce dark smoke if you burn:

  • tyres and other rubber-based products
  • plastics such as polystyrene
  • cables to remove the plastic insulation
  • oils and paints.

Smoke is considered 'dark' if it has a shade of two or darker on a Ringlemann chart. You can find the Ringelmann chart in British Standard BS2742C.

BSI British Standards: BS 2742C 1957 Ringelmann chart

There are exemptions from the dark smoke emission restrictions when burning certain waste materials in the open, such as:

  • timber and some other waste materials from building demolition or site clearance
  • waste explosives
  • diseased animal carcasses.

You must still comply with any other legislation that covers these activities.

Good practice

Prevent dust and smoke at your site

Cover vehicles and skips that leave your site. This will prevent dust and waste from your site causing pollution.

Collect rainwater from your roof and use this to dampen down dusty areas of your site. Use sustainable urban drainage systems to collect run-off so that you do not cause water pollution.

Lay a hard surface on roads and storage areas to reduce dust at your site.

Use extraction units to remove dust from your operations. Filter the extracted air before you release it into the atmosphere.

Find alternatives to burning waste in the open - for example, redesign your processes to reduce or eliminate your waste, recycle and reuse materials at your site, send your waste for recovery, or burn your waste in an authorised waste incineration or co-incineration plant.

Be a good operator

Maintain a high standard of housekeeping at your site. This could help you reduce dust and other nuisances.

Keep records of how you have managed dust and smoke at your site including details of any complaints.

Regularly monitor dust and smoke at your site.

Keep your treatment processes under control so that they do not cause dust or smoke emissions.

Be a good neighbour

Speak regularly with your neighbours about any issues with dust or smoke at your site.

If you receive any complaints about dust or smoke deal with them quickly.

Record the results of investigations into complaints and anything you do to correct the problem.

What you must do

Dust can come from a range of sources on-site, including:

  • unmade haul roads
  • material stockpiles
  • air flush from drilling operations.

Your local council can take action against you if your activities create levels of dust that cause, or have the potential to cause, damage to property or disturbance to the surrounding community. Your local council environmental health department can:

  • restrict your operations
  • stop your operations
  • require you to take steps to reduce the nuisance.

Noise, odour and other nuisances

You should take measures to reduce the risk of dust causing a nuisance to the local community.

Good practice

Maintain a high standard of housekeeping on site.

To ensure that dust arising from loaded wagons leaving the site is kept to a minimum, use covered wagons and skips.

Where necessary, use wheel-washing facilities at exits onto public roads.

Wheel washing at construction sites

Damp down stockpiles and unmade haul roads, and keep metalled haul roads clean using road sweepers.

Road sweepers at construction site

Composting, recycling and reprocessing operations can attract large volumes of insects and pests. Insects are most likely to cause a nuisance during the summer. At this time, composting facilities and food and drink packaging are likely to attract large numbers of flies and wasps to your site.

What you must do

If your activities create levels of noise, dust or odour that could cause a nuisance or complaints from the surrounding community, your local environmental health department can:

  • place restrictions on your operations
  • stop your operations
  • require you to take steps to reduce the nuisance.

Noise, odour and other nuisances

Good practice

Minimise odours that could attract vermin and pests to your facilities.

If possible, locate your facilities under cover. Check walls, doors and ceilings for gaps or holes where pests could gain access. Install anti insect units such as electronic fly killers, glue boards and light attractants in your buildings.

Install traps for mice and other rodents. You may consider using pesticides or chemicals to control rodents. You must ensure that they are stored securely, in sealed, labelled drums as far away from watercourses as possible. You must not pollute land, surface waters (streams, rivers etc) or groundwater. You could be prosecuted if pesticides stored on your site cause pollution.

Pests from recycling operations

Pesticides and biocides

Preventing water pollution

Site your recycling container bays for compost, cans, plastic bottles, tins or foil as far away from neighbours as possible. Make sure that they are also located away from any areas of your site open to the public. This will minimise the chance of any insects or pests causing a nuisance.

Noise, odour and other nuisances

Wash any packaging for recycling before you store. This removes contents that could attract pests and create odours. Ensure that you do not allow detergents, water contaminated with detergents or detergents remaining within the packaging to pollute land, surface waters (eg streams, burns and rivers) or groundwater.

Preventing water pollution

If you require assistance with pest control, contact the environmental health department of your local council.

Contact your local council

Communications

In general, most potential nuisance issues can be avoided by effective communications with your neighbours. Set up regular consultation days, when you invite neighbours to your site to learn more about your activities, and share views or concerns.

Further information

Noise, odour and other nuisances

Preventing air pollution

Your business could create noise in many ways. Sources of noise include machinery, vehicles and loud music.

Your activities could also create vibration. The definition of noise nuisance often includes vibration and noise and vibration are often controlled at the same time.

What you must do

Nuisance

If noise from your work is found to be causing a nuisance to the surrounding community, your local council can limit or even stop you from working. They can restrict:

  • the type of machinery you use
  • your working hours
  • noise levels emitted from your premises.

Failure to address a noise problem could result in legal action and a fine.

Noise, odour and other nuisances

Prohibition notices

Your local council also operates a system for controlling noise from construction activities that can be used even if a 'nuisance', as defined above, has not been caused.

If your local council believes that your works are creating an unreasonable level of noise, it can serve you with a prohibition notice.

In Scotland, this is known as a section 60 prohibition notice.

In Northern Ireland, this is known as an Article 40 prohibition notice.

This notice sets out requirements that you must comply with, including:

  • the type of plant or machinery to use
  • limits on hours of working
  • maximum noise levels.

If you do not comply with a prohibition notice you could face a fine. You can appeal the notice to the Magistrates Court in Northern Ireland or the Sheriff Court in Scotland.

Prior consent

You can apply to your local council before you start work for consent, which allows for the noise made by your construction activities.

In Scotland, this is known as a section 61 consent.

In Northern Ireland, this is known as an Article 41 consent.

Your local council must give you consent if it considers that your proposals are reasonable and, if you act in accordance with your application, it would not serve you with a prohibition notice.

Your consent application must contain details of:

  • the work you want to undertake
  • the location of your works
  • your proposed working hours
  • the method of work
  • the steps you will take to minimise noise.

If you do not undertake your works in the way that the consent describes, your local council can issue you with a prohibition notice.

Protecting your workforce

Loud noise can cause irreversible hearing damage. You have a duty to protect the hearing of your employees.

Health and Safety Executive: Noise

Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland

Your business could create noise in many ways. Sources of noise include machinery, vehicles and loud music.

Your activities could also create vibration. The definition of noise nuisance often includes vibration, and noise and vibration are often controlled at the same time.

If noise from your work is found to be causing a nuisance to the surrounding community, your local council can limit or even stop you from working. They can restrict:

  • the type of machinery you use
  • your working hours
  • noise levels emitted from your premises.

Failure to address a noise problem could result in legal action and a fine.

Good practice

Instead of obtaining a formal consent, you could ask the local council what they would consider to be reasonable. If you plan these requirements into your works, you are less likely to be issued with a prohibition notice.

Reduce noise from your equipment and vehicles

Service your vehicles and machinery regularly. Well maintained equipment will make less noise and is also less likely to break down.

Fit noise-reducing devices, such as silencers and baffles, to your machinery.

When you replace equipment, consider purchasing quieter alternatives. New equipment can introduce a noise problem when one did not exist previously. You should carry out a noise assessment when you install a new piece of equipment.

Use mains generated electricity instead of diesel generators.

Minimise the use of vehicle reversing alarms. For example, set up a one-way driving system on your site. Consider fitting a broadband reversing alarm, as this can reduce the level of noise that is generated on site.

Reduce noise from your vehicles by:

  • turning off engines when they are not in use
  • checking the brakes are properly adjusted and don't squeal
  • not revving the engine unnecessarily
  • only using the horn in emergencies
  • replacing exhaust systems as soon as they become noisy
  • replacing vehicles with electric or gas powered alternatives.

Working hours

Your contract may specify acceptable working hours and levels of noise. If it does, adhere to them.

In residential areas, avoid working or receiving deliveries during unsociable hours. For example, you could work between 8am and 4pm.

Pneumatic breakers create high levels of noise and will generate complaints from the public. If your site is close to sensitive areas such as housing or hospitals, try to limit your working hours, particularly for surface works, to the day-time.

Managing the impact of your works on the public

Before you start work, contact, in association with the client and main contractor, local residents to let them know what you will be doing. This can help to reduce hostility towards the works and will provide an opportunity for you to address the concerns of local people.

Develop a neighbourhood comment and complaint procedure for recording and dealing with complaints from local residents.

When operating in residential areas, display project contact details in prominent locations. This will give local residents a point of contact and should allow you address any nuisance issues that may arise.

Consider using solid panelled fencing around your site instead of wire matrix fences. This can help to reduce noise from your site and can also reduce wind-blown litter.

Before you start work, identify any site boundaries that may be sensitive to noise or vibration. In your method statements, include actions that you need to take to reduce noise at sensitive locations.

Screening plants used to remove sands or gravels from bentonite, or centrifuge systems used to remove water from slurry, can both create high levels of noise. Position these systems as far away as possible from housing.

Permanently running generators on sites that are close to local housing can cause a nuisance to residents. Use mains power in preference to diesel generators where possible.

When running generators and compressors, ensure that access doors are closed. This will reduce the noise level.

Turn off vehicle engines when not in use. This will reduce noise and emissions.

Liaison with your Environmental Health Officer

Keep your environmental health officer informed of your work's progress, the dates and times of any particularly disruptive activities and the contact details of a named person.

Encourage your local environmental health officer to contact you with any public complaints that arise. This will give you the opportunity to address those complaints before formal action is taken against you.

Noise monitoring

Monitor background noise at noise sensitive locations, for example, residential areas, before your works begin and periodically during the contract.

Only use monitoring equipment that has a current calibration certificate.

You should include additional information with the data you collect, including records of the date, time, location and the person who undertook the monitoring, as well as a description of the activities being undertaken at the time.

You should only allow people who hold a noise competency certificate to monitor noise.

'BS5228: Control of Noise and Vibration on Construction and Open Sites' will help you to estimate the noise your works will make. You can order it from the British Standards Institution on telephone number 020 8996 7000.

Further information

Scotland: Planning Advice Note 56 - Planning and Noise

Scottish Government: Noise

You may find the following British Standards useful:

British Standard BS4142 - Method for rating industrial noise affecting mixed residential and industrial areas

British Standard BS5228 - Noise and vibration control on construction and open sites

British Standard BS6472 - Guide to evaluation of human exposure to vibration in buildings

British Standard BS7385 - Evaluation and measurement for vibration in buildings

These are available from British Standards Online. You can buy copies of the full standards or view summaries by registering on their website.

British Standards Online

Sources of odour on your farm can include:

  • manure
  • slurry
  • silage effluent
  • feed
  • livestock housing
  • carcasses.

They can indicate that high levels of ammonia have been released into the atmosphere.

Animal husbandry is the largest source of ammonia releases to air in the UK. Slurry and manure are likely to release ammonia when they come into contact with air. Emissions of ammonia can:

  • Disrupt the balance of some types of vegetation such as heathlands or bogs which exist partly because of naturally low soil nitrogen.
  • Result in acidity when it reacts in the soil. Excess acid in the soil is damaging to certain types of vegetation.
  • Lead to damaged foliage and slower growth of trees or other vegetation growing close to a source of high ammonia emissions due to the direct toxic effects of the gas.

The UK is required to reduce its ammonia emissions to meet air quality standards.

What you must do

If odour from your farm is causing a nuisance to the surrounding community, your local council can limit or even stop you from working.

If you don't address an odour problem you could face legal action and a fine.

Noise, odour and other nuisances

Good practice

The type of feed you use influences the odours your manure produces. You can use special products to reduce nitrogen excretions, and therefore odours, at all stages of livestock rearing.

Dust particles can carry odours. You should mix and mill foodstuffs such as whey and fish-meal, within a closed system.

How you minimise odour from slurry and manure will depend on the type of housing and collection system you have. You should:

  • Remove slurry regularly, and clean affected areas whenever possible. This prevents the build up and decay of the slurry, and prevents resulting odours.
  • Inspect and maintain drinkers and troughs to prevent leaks as water will increase ammonia release in poultry litter.
  • Drain effluent to collection tanks if it is not absorbed by bedded systems.
  • Cover litter removed from your buildings to keep it dry.

Further information

The codes of good agricultural practice provide more information on how to minimise odours and gases.

In Northern Ireland, see section 11 of the DARD code of good agricultural practice for water, air and soil.

DAERA: Code of good agricultural practice for the prevention of pollution of water, air and soil

In Scotland, see section 13 of the Prevention of Environmental Pollution from Agricultural Activity (PEPFAA) Code.

Scottish Government: Prevention of Environmental Pollution from Agricultural Activity (PEPFAA Code) 2005 (Scotland) (Adobe PDF 1.34MB)

Your waste or sewage site may contain microscopic organisms known as pathogens or bioaerosols that can be hazardous to human health. For example, if you operate a composting facility or anaerobic digester your site may contain:

  • bacteria, such as Salmonella and Streptococcus
  • protozoa, such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium
  • parasites, such as beef tapeworm Taeniasaginate and potato cyst nematodes
  • fungal spores
  • viruses.

For information about pests, see our pests guidance.

What you must do

If your business has a permit, licence or exemption you must comply with its conditions, including any conditions about bioaerosols. If you do not comply with conditions you can be fined or sent to prison.

Good practice

Control pathogens at your site

Put appropriate measures in place to control any pathogens at your site.

You may use pesticides or chemicals to control rodents or other pests at your site. Make sure that you do not cause land or water pollution.

If you require assistance with pest control, contact the environmental health department of your local council.

Directgov: Find out about pest control

Contact your local council

Treat compost and sewage sludge to remove pathogens. You could do this by using:

  • sludge pasteurisation and mesophilic anaerobic digestion
  • lime stabilisation for liquid sludge
  • dewatering methods.

For further information about these treatment processes, see Table 1 in the Defra Code of Practice for agriculture use of sewage sludge.

SNIFFER (Scotland and Northern Ireland Forum For Environmental Research): Code of Practice for agricultural use of sewage sludge

You should also see our guidance on disposing of sewage sludge.

Be a good operator

Keep records of how you have managed pathogens at your site including details of any complaints.

Manage your site to ensure that it is not a source of human or animal infection.

Operate your treatment processes to maximise removal of pathogens from waste or sewage.

Be a good neighbour

Speak regularly with your neighbours about any issues with pathogens at your site.

If you receive any complaints about pathogens deal with them quickly.

Your waste or sewage site can attract insects, scavenging birds, vermin and other pests that are hazardous to human health.

For information about pathogens, see our pathogens guidance.

What you must do

Comply with your permit, licence or registered exemption

If your business has a permit, licence or registered exemption you must comply with its conditions, including any conditions about pests. If you do not comply with conditions you can be fined or sent to prison.

Does your waste or sewage business need a PPC permit?

Waste exemptions for waste or sewage businesses

Prevent nuisance

If your business is affected by large numbers of insects that cause or are likely to cause a nuisance or harm the health of your neighbours, your local council can issue you with anabatement notice that:

  • requires you to reduce or stop the nuisance
  • stops or places restrictions on your operations
  • requires you to carry out work to stop the nuisance from reoccurring.

Anyone affected by the nuisance, such as your neighbours, can apply to the court in Northern Ireland or the sheriff in Scotland to issue you with an abatement notice.

You can be fined if you do not comply with an abatement notice, and your local authority can take steps to abate the nuisance itself and charge you for its costs.

For further information, see our guidance on noise, odour and other nuisances.

Good practice

Control pests at your site

Minimise odours that could attract insects, scavenging birds, vermin and other pests to your facility.

If possible, keep waste or sewage at your site under cover. Check walls, doors and ceilings for gaps or holes where pests could get in.

Install anti-insect units such as electronic fly killers, glue boards and light attractants in your buildings.

Install traps for mice and other rodents.

Consider the impact of pests from your site on the surrounding environment as part of your routine site inspections.

If your site is located near an airport or under a flight path, large groups of birds can be a hazard for aircraft. Deter birds with predatory birds or use audio or mechanical devices.

You may use pesticides or chemicals to control rodents or other pests at your site. Make sure that you do not cause land or water pollution.

If you require assistance with pest control, contact the environmental health department of your local council.

Directgov: Find out about pest control

Contact your local council

Be a good operator

Write and implement a pest management plan to control any pests affecting your site.

Keep records of how you have managed pests at your site including details of any complaints.

Regularly monitor pests at your site.

Keep your operations under control so that they do not attract pests.

Be a good neighbour

Position waste skips and container bays as far away from your neighbours and away from any areas of your site open to the public.

You can avoid many complaints by communicating effectively with your neighbours. Set up regular consultation days when you invite neighbours to your site to learn more about your activities, and share views or concerns.

If you receive any complaints about pests deal with them quickly.

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