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Other nuisances


The Environmental Protection Team deal with many complaints alleging nuisance or annoyance about a variety of matters such as:

  • Any premises in such a poor state
  • Fumes
  • Gases
  • Dust
  • Accumulations
  • Animals
  • Insects
  • Invasive weeds

Proving Nuisance

The usual considerations for Statutory Nuisance apply, such as the time of day, frequency and duration of incidents, locality and the reasonableness of the activity causing the problem. It should be noted that businesses have a legal defence of 'best practicable means', which means that they can appeal an abatement notice if they have taken all reasonable steps to mitigate the nuisance. We will need the complainant to keep some records of the issue that is of concern. Further information on the investigative process can be viewed on "How we investigate Statutory Nuisance".

Premises

Some premises are in such a poor state that they present structural impacts or pest control issues for neighbouring properties. We can assist by dealing with the matters that are causing a nuisance or are prejudicial to health but we cannot take action on issues that fall short of this. We often receive complaints about how a property "looks". It may be that the Planning Authority can take action if the premises is deemed to be "detrimental to the area". Further advice on this can be sought from Sedgemoor District Council's Planning Advice department.

Accumulations or deposits

We receive a significant number of complaints about accumulations but the legislation only allows us to deal with some accumulations, those that are having a direct impact on nearby residents. For example, an accumulation of refuse in a residential garden that is causing an odour nuisance or flies at neighbouring properties, is covered by the nuisance legislation. However, a large pile of inert waste such as building rubble or timber, or miscellaneous items, will be an eyesore and source of annoyance to neighbours, but will not constitute a statutory nuisance.

It should be recognised that whilst some issues may be undeniably annoying, such as the feeding of birds, unattractive overgrown gardens, occasional bonfires, they may not constitute a Statutory Nuisance.

Invasive Weeds

Japanese Knotweed

Japanese knotweed, sometimes known locally as donkey rhubarb, was introduced to the UK in the mid nineteenth century as an ornamental plant Since then it has become a serious problem in a range of habitats, particularly roadsides, riverbanks and derelict land, displacing native flora and causing structural damage.

You don't have to remove Japanese knotweed from your land, but you could be prosecuted or given a community protection notice for causing a nuisance if you allow it to spread onto anyone else's property. You can control it chemically, by burning it, burying it or getting specialist disposal help. All control methods have rules that must be followed and guidance is available on the GOV.UK website:  GOV.UK - Prevent Japanese knotweed from spreading

Ragwort

Ragwort is harmful to animals or can cause problems for agricultural production if left to spread unchecked. When handling you should wear gloves and a mask. When cutting the plant, ensure the heads are removed first and bagged immediately to avoid spilling  any seeds.

Common ragwort is the most commonly reported weed and can seriously harm grazing livestock, including:

  • cattle
  • horses
  • ponies
  • sheep

If you're a livestock owner you should protect animals from ragwort poisoning. Feed or forage which contains ragwort in any state is unsafe for animals.

You can control ragwort using a combination of:

  • spraying or weed wiping the plants with chemicals (known as 'herbicides')
  • removing live, dead or dying plants by pulling or digging them out
  • cutting plants back to prevent the dispersal of seeds
  • burning plants using a spot burner
  • managing livestock so that they don't overgraze and create bare areas where ragwort can become established.

Again advice on this subject is available on the GOV.UK website GOV.UK - Prevent harmful weeds and invasive non-native plants spreading.

What should you do if you are concerned?

If you have a complaint, it is best to discuss it initially with the person responsible; they may not realise they are causing a problem. Try to be reasonable, otherwise your discussions are likely to end in further argument. Explain the details of your complaint and try to agree on a reasonable solution or compromise.

Further information on the investigation process for complaints is available in the leaflet below or on our Statutory Nuisance webpage. If in any doubt whether an issue can be investigated please contact the Environmental Protection team for advice.

How to complain

If you wish to complain you can phone us on the number below, or online here:  Report a nuisance - noise or other pollution

Environmental Protection Act 1990 Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) Environmental Protection UK Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs Environment Agency GOV.uk - Air quality and planning