Page updated on: 04/12/2023

We all experience nuisances from a variety of sources from time to time, but when a nuisance becomes persistent and affects your day-to-day living, we may be able to help. If a nuisance becomes harmful to your health, or affects the way in which you are able to enjoy your home, we may be in a position to serve a notice on the person responsible which requires them to act. If they don’t act, they may then face prosecution.

Welsh Water/Dŵr Cymru is responsible for the maintenance of most private sewers and lateral drains.

Private drains that serve only one property and lie within the curtilage of that property are still the responsibility of the private owner, as are cesspits and septic tanks. 

Dust can be generated from a variety of activities such as construction/demolition sites and industrial processes which may constitute a statutory nuisance under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

We have a duty to investigate complaints of artificial light which may be causing a nuisance. The legislation is designed to tackle nuisance from artificial light emanating from a premises which is excessive and affects someone in the use and enjoyment of their own property.

The legislation does not apply to artificial light emitted from the following premises, which require high levels of light for safety and/or security reasons:

  • Airports
  • Public service vehicle operating centres
  • Harbours
  • Goods vehicle operating centres
  • Railway premises
  • Lighthouses
  • Tramway premises
  • Prisons
  • Bus stations and associated facilities
  • Premises occupied for defence purposes

While street lighting is not specifically exempted it is unlikely to constitute an artificial light nuisance as it is not usually found on premises as defined in the legislation. 

Most of us are troubled by unpleasant smells at some time. If the smell does not go on for a prolonged period or is not too unpleasant we can usually cope. A statutory nuisance occurs with any fume or smell from a premises that is prejudicial to health, or a nuisance.

You should be aware that if you live close to sewage works, farmland on which slurry is spread, a refuse tip or similar premises, you may be able to smell those activities from time to time. All we can do in these circumstances is ask the operator to do what they reasonably can to minimise those smells.

There are no specific laws against having bonfires. However if a statutory nuisance is being caused by bonfires, then legal action to prevent such a nuisance can be taken under section 80 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

For a bonfire to be classed as a nuisance it must be a regular problem and interfere substantially with your well being, comfort or enjoyment of your property.

Smoke and smell from a bonfire can upset neighbours, ruin enjoyment of the garden, prevent people opening their windows or hanging out their washing. Smoke from a bonfire can also cause a danger if it reduces visibility on nearby roads.

Fires can spread quickly damaging plants, trees, fencing and buildings. Bottles and cans can explode when they are burnt. Piles of garden waste can also be used as a shelter by wildlife or pets, so please remember to check before lighting a bonfire.

The best way of disposing of waste, including garden rubbish, is to compost it or take it to your nearest Household Waste Recycling Centre. If you choose to dispose of it by burning instead, please follow these guidelines:

  • Only burn dry material
  • Never burn household rubbish, rubber tyres, or anything containing plastic, foam or paint
  • Never use old engine oil, methylated spirits or petrol to light the fire or to encourage it
  • Avoid lighting a fire in unsuitable weather conditions - smoke hangs in the air on damp, still days and in the evening. If it is windy, smoke may be blown into neighbours gardens and across roads
  • Avoid burning at weekends and on bank holidays when people want to enjoy their gardens
  • Avoid burning when air pollution in your area is high or very high
  • Never leave a fire unattended or leave it to smoulder - douse it with water if necessary

Industrial properties:
It is an offence to cause or permit the emission of dark smoke from industrial or trade premises under the Clean Air Act 1993.