Air Pollution and Local Air Quality

Air Pollution can come in many forms including:

Odour Nuisance

How to make a complaint about offensive smells such as smoke, fumes or gases

The task of assessing an odour complaint can be difficult as different people have varying sensitivity to and tolerance of odours.  There are no laws that relate specifically to odour, and there are no numerical limits which constitute a statutory nuisance.  Each situation is different and must be appraised separately.  Complaints of odour which may also include smoke, fumes, or gases are investigated under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

In determining whether an odour is deemed to be a statutory nuisance the following are important considerations

  1. Strength and character of odour
  2. Duration of odour event
  3. Frequency of occurrence

It is unlikely that an odour would be regarded as a statutory nuisance unless it is a persistent problem which substantially affects the personal comfort or amenity of those subjected to it.

Before making a complaint it is important that the following information is provided:

  1. The source of the odour
  2. An estimation of the frequency and its effect.

Following the receipt of your complaint you will be sent a log sheet and asked to record details of the odour such as its strength & nature, time of day and duration of each event.  After a period of four weeks the log sheet should be returned to us and the information will help us to determine if there is any pattern to the problem and aid us in our efforts to find a resolution.

If an odour problem is formally identified as a statutory nuisance then an abatement notice will be served which requires those responsible to undertake remedial action.  An industrial or commercial enterprise may contend that they are operating their process in line with “Best Practicable Means” (BPM) which means that they are using appropriate technology and methods within their financial means.  If the BPM defence is accepted then it would be unlikely that statutory nuisance would be established.

In many cases circumstances combine which make it impossible to establish statutory nuisance.  However, it may be possible to seek an informal resolution of a complaint and the availability of information provided by a complainant’s log sheet can play a vital role.

Smoke

Complaints about smoke are often associated with garden bonfires or activities on industrial sites.  Guidance on how you can minimise disturbance from garden bonfires can be downloaded below. The Clean Air Act prohibits the emission of dark smoke from chimneys or from any trade or industrial premises.  If you wish to make a complaint please contact your local area office.  

Although there are no smoke control areas in Argyll and Bute the high percentage of properties using coal or wood for heating can sometimes leads to problems of smoke pollution for neighbours and an overall reduction in air quality. 

Installation of New Boilers and Chimneys.

The Clean Air Act requires that all new industrial boiler plant shall be capable of operating without emitting smoke and a proposed installation must be notified to the Council.  Solid fuel boilers with the capacity to burn fuel at a
rate exceeding 45.4kg/hr will require the chimney height to be approved and may require dust arrestment plant to be fitted.  Boilers fuelled by biomass come into this category and a guidance note is available for download.  The Scottish Government and Forestry Commission Scotland have also produced have produced guidance on air quality and biomass for local authorities in Scotland which is available for download here.
Approval of chimney height is also required for gas or oil boilers whose capacity exceeds 366.4kW.  If you have any requires or require advice about the requirements of the Clean Air Act please email envhealth@argyll-bute.gov.uk or ring 01546 604421

Pollution Prevention and Control (PPC)

Many industrial processes are regulated by SEPA so that emissions are prevented or minimised.  For further information on the PPC regime please go to SEPA’s website.

Local Air Quality Management

The Council is required to undertake annual reviews of air quality in the district and recent reports can be downloaded here:

2017 Air Quality Annual Progress Report for Argyll and Bute Council - June 2017

The Council undertakes a programme of air monitoring.  A report is produced annually and can be downloaded here.