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.
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. More 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.
Anti - Social Behaviour First Point of Contact for Nuisance
Our Wardens are usually the first point of contact in dealing with minor incidents of antisocial behaviour and neighbour disputes and are a link between the community and the police in trying to reduce crime and antisocial behaviour. They also have enforcement responsibilities including antisocial noise monitoring, dog fouling and litter.
We believe that antisocial or nuisance behaviour is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Antisocial behaviour includes a wide range of issues including:
- playing music at excessive levels
- drug related issues
- disorder and a wide range of criminal activities
We can only tackle antisocial behaviour if you tell us about it and how it is affecting your quality of life. We need to know when and where it is happening so that we can target those causing the problems and introduce suitable and effective solutions.
Where possible we aim to resolve problems informally through advice or mediation.
If this cannot be achieved then we will instigate court action on your behalf. Court action will only be considered if you agree and you will be consulted at every stage of the process. Any information you provide will be treated in the strictest confidence.
Reporting a problem:
If you are a Council tenant you can contact your local Housing Office or if you are a Housing Association tenant you can contact your local Association Office