Environmental Protection - Nuisances

Statutory Nuisance

The Environmental Protection Act 1990 requires Cornwall Council to take reasonable steps to investigate and, if appropriate, take formal action in the event of justified complaints of statutory nuisance.

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Things that can be investigated to determine if they are prejudicial to health or a statutory nuisance are : 

Any premises in such a state as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance;

Smoke emitted from premises so as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance (This does not apply to premises occupied by the Crown for military or Ministry of Defence purposes, Smoke emitted from the chimney of a house within a smoke control area, dark smoke from the chimney of a building or of a furnace attached to a building or installed in any land, smoke from a railway locomotive steam engine, dark smoke from any industrial or trade premises)

  • Fumes or gases emitted from private premises so as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance;
  • Any dust, steam, smell or other effluvia arising on industrial, trade or business premises and being prejudicial to health or a nuisance;
  • Any accumulation or deposit which is prejudicial to health or a nuisance;
  • Any animal kept in such a place or manner as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance;
  • Any insects emanating from relevant industrial, trade or business premises and being prejudicial to health or a nuisance;
  • Artificial light emitted from premises so as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance;
  • Noise (except that from aircraft other than model aircraft) emitted from premises so as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance;
  • Noise that is prejudicial to health or a nuisance and is emitted from or caused by a vehicle, machinery or equipment in a street (other than noise made by traffic, by any military force or by political demonstration or demonstration supporting or opposing a cause or campaign
  • Any other matter declared by any enactment to be a statutory nuisance

The above list may not be exhaustive, and for the Local Authority to take formal action they must be satisfied that a statutory nuisance is either in existence or likely to occur, there are tests and case law that are taken into consideration when assessing a statutory nuisance.

Many people are completely unaware of the effect that certain activities may have on their neighbours. They might well act in a more responsible and considerate way if the facts are politely brought to their attention. A nuisance would be a significant and unreasonable interference that affects you in a significant and unreasonable way when at your home or place of work. It is more than 'annoyance' or 'eyesore'.

Many other factors determine whether or not something can be considered a statutory nuisance and these can include:

  • The time of the day
  • Your location/character of neighbourhood e.g. urban/rural
  • The duration, regularity and severity of the problem

A statutory nuisance may be caused by many activities including premises in such a state, smoke from premises, fumes or gases from premises, accumulations or deposits, animals kept in such a place or manner and noise. In addition a statutory nuisance can also be caused by dust, steam, smell or other effluvia arising on industrial, trade or business premises.

For the Environmental Protection Team to instigate any formal action we must consider the problem to be either prejudicial to health or a nuisance. If satisfied that a complaint of statutory nuisance is justified, an Abatement must be served upon the person responsible, occupier or owner of the premises (as appropriate) requiring that the nuisance be abated. Failure to comply with an Abatement is an offence and legal proceedings may result.  We would write to the person responsible and bring the matters to their attention to attempt to resolve the issue and ask you to keep a diary (which we would send to you) of any nuisance which is affecting you.  We would also send a leaflet regarding statutory nuisance for information.

In certain circumstances Environmental Protection are not able to take formal action, as it may not be sufficiently bad to constitute a statutory nuisance, not in the public interest for the Council to take legal action or other such reason - you may be able to take private action against the person causing the problem.

For more information on nuisances please contact us by using the contact details on this page

These notices were served following complaints made to the Council by members of the public. Where the Council determines the nuisance activity to be substantiated the Council serves notice on those creating the nuisance directing them to abate the nuisance.