What is a Statutory Nuisance?

East Dunbartonshire Council will investigate reports of statutory nuisance which may arise due to any of the matters listed below. If a statutory nuisance is deemed to exist, officers will serve an abatement notice to have the issue resolved. Failure to comply with such an abatement notice is an offence.

To fall within the definition of statutory nuisance provided by the Environmental Protection Act 1990, an activity needs to be:

  • a nuisance, or
  • posing a threat to health

A nuisance is an ongoing state of affairs which is unreasonable and causes substantial and intolerable interference to the use and enjoyment of a person's property and which directly affects the people at that property.

A statutory nuisance is much more severe than a matter which is just an annoyance, an eyesore, or being aware of something.

On this page you will find information on:


Types of statutory nuisance

There are a number of states of affair which can give rise to statutory nuisance:

  • The physical state of a premises: to be in such a state as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance.
  • Smoke, fumes or gases: emitted from premises, or from a vehicle, machinery or equipment in a street.
  • Odour, dust, steam: from industrial, trade or business premises. Information on odour from agricultural activities.
  • Noise: coming from premises, or from a vehicle, machinery or equipment in the street. Noise from people and parties is more commonly addressed under Antisocial Behaviour.
  • Light: from badly adjusted security lights or floodlights for example
  • Insects: from any industrial, trade or business premises
  • Accumulations: any significant accumulation which could cause a nuisance or present a health risk for humans. Note that in domestic houses, there must be a direct risk to health – inert waste such as furniture will not qualify.

Statutory nuisances tend to be property based issues. Therefore an issue which disturbed you whilst walking on a public footpath, or whilst you were a visitor somewhere, could not be a statutory nuisance to you but could still be investigated through other means.

Common issues which are unlikely to be covered by statutory nuisance include:

  • Aircraft noise
  • Road traffic noise
  • Noise from normal everyday activities such as babies crying, footsteps and children playing.
  • Noise from construction sites or roadworks
  • Odours from domestic houses
  • Infrequent or 'one-off' parties
  • Infrequent garden bonfires 
  • Bird feeding – unless causing serious waste accumulations and/or attracting vermin

These may be covered by other legislation frameworks.  In some cases where we may not be able to take formal action, however we can provide advice or suggest your best course of action.

How is a statutory nuisance determined?

Whether or not a statutory nuisance exists will be determined by Environmental Health Officers. The decision is based on what an 'ordinary person' would accept. We cannot therefore take into consideration shift workers or people who are studying, unwell, or have particular sensitivities.

We will take into account:

  • The time of day/night that the situation occurs
  • How long it lasts
  • How often it happens
  • Whether it's socially acceptable, for example fireworks on bonfire night
  • The surrounding environment
  • The motive of the person responsible for creating the situation

For officers to be satisfied that a statutory nuisance exists, they must normally be able to witness the issue as it affects you on several occasions. You may also be required to complete diaries to keep note of when an issue affects you. You would also be expected to be willing to appear in court as a witness to the nuisance, should the situation demand it.

What can I do if the Council can’t take action?

In some circumstances, Environmental Health Officers may not agree that a statutory nuisance is present, or may not be able to gather sufficient evidence to proceed formally. In such cases, every individual has the right to make an application directly to the Sheriff themselves, and if the Sheriff agrees that a statutory nuisance exists, they may make an order requiring abatement of the nuisance.

Sometimes, your household or business insurance may include a legal aid clause which may help cover any associated legal costs.

Construction and demolition noise

Our Environmental Health Officers will respond to complaints of noise from building sites.

Noise Control

The Control of Pollution Act 1974 allows the Council to set the times during which work may be carried out and the methods of work to be used to minimise noise.

If justified, Environmental Health Officers issue a notice under the Control of Pollution Act 1974 and if it is breached, report the matter to the Crown Office Procurator Fiscal Service.

Times of Working

The hours of work for construction and demolition activities within the East Dunbartonshire Council area are:

  • Monday to Friday: 8am to 7pm
  • Saturday: 8am to 1pm
  • Sunday and Public Holidays: No noisy operations

In exceptional circumstances works outside these hours may be unavoidable and in such cases the person responsible should consult this Service as far in advance as possible. It is also recommended that local residents are notified in advance of out of hours work by the relevant contractor.

Best Practicable Means

Contractors should ensure that the best practicable means are employed to minimise noise. British Standard 5228:Part1:2014 is approved as a code of practice for basic information and procedures for noise and vibration control on construction and open sites.

Methods of Work

The following examples are applicable:

  • For any particular job the quietest plant and/or machinery should be used. Where appropriate it must be constructed to meet the requirements of EEC Directives;
  • All equipment should be maintained in good mechanical order and fitted with the appropriate silencers, mufflers or acoustic covers;
  • Stationary noise sources should be sited as far as possible from noise sensitive developments and where necessary, acoustic barriers should be used to shield them;
  • Any pilling should be carried out by the method of causing the minimum of noise and vibration, sheet steel piling whether permanent or temporary should be driven by vibratory jacking or box silenced percussion systems or a combination of these methods subject to the requirements of the council;
  • The movement of vehicles to and from the site must be controlled and should not take place outside the permitted hours unless with prior approval, employees should be supervised to ensure compliance with the noise control measures adopted.            

General Advice

In the interests of good public relations construction companies are advised to inform and consult local residents regarding works and to give them the name of the person on site that will be able to deal with queries. If you have any queries about these matters, please call 0300 123 4510 or email