Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Protecting neighbours from air pollution nuisance

Prevent nuisances

Any emissions you cause that affect your neighbours' use and enjoyment of their premises could be a nuisance. For example, if your business is in a residential area and your processes emit dust and fumes, your neighbours have the right to complain. Statutory nuisances from air pollution include:

  • dust
  • fumes
  • odour
  • smoke
  • gases.

If you cause but fail to deal with a nuisance problem you could face legal action and/or a fine. Your local council or environmental regulator could restrict or stop your business activities.

The best way to avoid legal action is to not create a nuisance in the first place. You can achieve this by maintaining equipment properly, monitoring your emissions so you can detect potential problems as soon as possible and keeping your neighbours informed of changes. See the page in this guideline on Checking and controlling air pollution from your business.

See also the NetRegs Environmental Topic Noise, odour and other nuisances.


Local council controls

Local councils monitor air quality. If air quality fails to meet the required standards, the local council will declare the area an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) and set out a plan for making improvements. Measures taken may affect your business.

Your local council can also declare a Smoke Control Area, which means that you can use only authorised fuels or exempted furnaces or boilers. In such areas, the emission of any smoke at any time from a chimney is an offence, with only a few exceptions.

See more information on Air Quality Management Areas and Smoke Control Areas, in this guidance.


Further information

 Noise, odour and other nuisances.

 Contact your environmental regulator


In this guideline

Causes and effects of air pollution

Business benefits of improving air quality

What you must do to prevent air pollution

Prevent dark smoke

Boilers and furnaces: environmental authorisations

Boilers and furnaces - chimney height requirements

Smoke control areas

Prevent nuisances: protect neighbours

Measuring and monitoring to reduce air pollution

Air pollution environmental legislation

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