Experiencing pollution issues

Examples of common pollution nuisance problems that residents of Sefton may experience are given below. 

  • Domestic noise
  • Industrial/Commercial noise
  • Construction noise
  • Commercial burning
  • Domestic bonfires
  • Industrial/Commercial odours
  • Light Nuisance

If you are affected by any of the above problems you should follow the steps outlined below.

1st course of action

Most people or businesses do not realise that their actions are causing an issue to others and by politely speaking to them or putting your concerns in writing, the problem can be resolved. This is why we ask that you contact them in the first instance. To help you with this we have included some tips at the bottom of the page, on how to approach people and some sample letters if you don't feel comfortable speaking face to face.

Pollution complaints the Council can help with

Due to limited resources we have to prioritise to target the complaints which are causing significant disturbance such as:

  • Commercial/industrial noise complaints
  • Domestic noise complaints were there are multiple households complaining or the noise is at an antisocial time ( 22.00- 0700)
  • Alarms
  • Construction site noise occurring outside our recommended hours (08.00-18.00 Mon-Fri 08.00-13.00 Sat and no time Sundays and Bank Holidays)
  • Industrial/Commercial odour complaints
  • Industrial/Commercial dust complaints
  • Commercial burning
  • Regular domestic bonfires (Regular defined as more than 3 times a week)
  • Smoke from commercial chimneys
  • Regular smoke from domestic chimneys (Regular defined as more than 3 times a week)
  • Domestic Light nuisance complaints where sleep is being affected
  • Commercial light nuisance complaints where sleep is being affected

If your complaint falls into one of the above categories and you have already attempted to resolve the problem yourself using the tips below, please contact us on 0345 140 0845. Further information on how we investigate different pollution complaints is also available below.

In contrast, the Council cannot deal with the following types of pollution complaints as they are unlikely to amount to a Statutory nuisance:

  • Noise from barking dogs/music/TV’s occurring the during day affecting one residential property
  • Noise from one off parties/celebrations
  • Buskers
  • Ice cream vans
  • Construction noise occurring during the day
  • People talking, Children playing or Babies crying
  • Everyday domestic noise- washing machines, vacuuming, mowing lawns, boilers
  • Traffic/Railway/Aircraft noise
  • Light nuisance affecting non habitable rooms
  • Domestic odour complaints
  • One off domestic bonfires 

Taking your own legal action for pollution problems

If the informal approach has not worked and we are unable to assist you can take your own action under Section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 at the Magistrates Court - view the 'how to take your own action' leaflet).

If the Magistrates are satisfied that a nuisance exists they may make an order requiring the person causing the disturbance to stop and/or prevent the nuisance starting again. The court may also impose a fine of up to £5,000 on the defendant although smaller sums are much more usual. 

Often people are not aware that their actions are causing problems and they will be keen to avoid a fall out or have 'official involvement' from the Council.  

Tips on speaking to a neighbour or business

Remain polite and calm at all times, raising your voice or behaving in a threatening manner will aggravate the situation and is best avoided.

Explain to them clearly what’s disturbing you and your family and tell them how and when you are being disturbed.

If appropriate offer solutions to the issue and be prepared to compromise. Remember that you are trying to find a solution for the future that both you and your neighbours can live with

Try and avoid discussing old problems and concentrate on the current issue.

If you are not comfortable speaking face to face or wish to confirm any face to face approach in writing we have included some letter templates that may help:

Template Domestic Letter (word 13KB)
Template Business Letter (word 14KB)
Template Construction Letter (word 14KB)


When you report your complaint you will be asked to provide:

  • Your name, address, email address and contact telephone number
  • The address where the noise is coming from
  • The problem you are suffering , how long it has been happening and what you have done to try to deal with it

An officer will be assigned to your case and will contact you within 5 working days to advise you of the next steps in the process. If the case can’t be investigated by the Council you will be advised of this by the officer.

After discussion with you, the Investigating officer will then normally write to the  source of complaint with an informal advisory letter to try and resolve the matter at an early stage.

If the problem continues after this, you will be required to complete the log sheet you have been sent (over the next 1-3 weeks) and return the log to the Council.

After completing the log sheet please sign, date and return the log sheet by email or to the freepost address provided. Please make a copy of your log sheet before returning it.

The log sheet must include the reference number you were assigned when you reported the complaint. If no further contact is received from you after the advisory letter has been sent your case will be closed 

If you return the log sheet your investigating Officer will review this and contact you to discuss the case further. If no further action can be taken you will be advised at this point. If further action is possible the complaint source would normally be issued with a formal warning letter advising that  monitoring and or surveillance will be undertaken should the problem continue.

If the problem continues after the formal warning letter, monitoring equipment will be installed or surveillance will be carried out at your property to witness the complaint. If evidence of a  nuisance is witnessed, we will take appropriate enforcement action and may serve an abatement notice on the person responsible for the problem.

Your Investigating officer will keep you updated throughout the investigation process.

If the problem continues after the abatement notice court action may be possible and you may be required to complete further log sheets, witness statements and attend court to give evidence.

If no further action is possible the Investigating Officer will contact you and advise you accordingly.

Last Updated on 05 December 2017