Odours and smells

An odour is a smell that is detectable. We will investigate complaints to see if the odour is bad enough to cause a nuisance or annoyance. The source of the odour needs to be clearly identified.

Sources of odour complaints may be from:

  • fumes or gases from dwellings

  • waste by-products from industrial or trade or business premises

  • accumulations or deposits of rubbish

What is offensive to one person may be acceptable to another. In our investigations we consider:

  • type of odour

  • how long it lasts

  • how often it occurs

  • time of day

  • wind strength and direction

They may be easily detected, annoying or unpleasant but we cannot deal with all odours. The odour would need to be a persistent problem. Despite someone's best intentions the nature of the work they carry out may mean the odour is unavoidable.

Any industrial or commercial operation may have a 'Best Practicable Means' defence. This means that if they are doing everything reasonable within their financial means and within the scope of current technical knowledge to prevent causing a problem we would be unable to ask for any additional measures.

With complaints about the spreading of manure or slurry on the land we follow the informal advice provided by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) that manure or similar should be ploughed in within 72 hours of it being spread.

There will be a certain amount of odour arising from this activity. If odour is experienced after this time and the source is identified we can investigate.

Businesses that have a permit must comply with the conditions attached to their permit. In this instance we would look at the conditions of the permit rather than investigate it as an odour nuisance.

If you notice a bad smell in your neighbourhood in the Lewes district and you can identify its source, you can report it to us online:

Start now



If you notice a bad smell in your neighbourhood in Eastbourne and you can identify its source, you can report it to us online:

Start now