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Pollution Control

We receive complaints about many different types of pollution incidents. Below is a list of the pollution matters that we deal with.

If you wish to report an incident, please contact us on 01744 676338 or environmentalhealth@sthelens.gov.uk.

The Clean Air Act 1993 gave local authorities the power to designate the whole or part of their district as a Smoke Control Zone. The vast majority of St Helens is within a Smoke Control Zone, with only a few areas that are not. For further clarification, please contact the Council's Contact Centre on 01744 676789.

It is illegal under the Clean Air Act 1993 to burn unauthorised fuels upon your fireplace, which includes peat, wood and bituminous house coal.

In a Smoke Control Area, the following fuels are authorised for use: gas, electricity, low volatile steam coals, coke, and patent smokeless fuels such as Coalite, Rexco and Homefire.

If you wish to burn clean wood/logs, an exempt appliance as approved by Defra must be used. These exempt appliances are permitted to be used in smoke control areas and further details of these appliances can be provided by Defra. A full list of smokeless fuels and exempt appliances are available at smokecontrol.defra.gov.uk.

We investigate complaints about dust and will offer advice to those responsible for the dust on how to minimise the problem.

Dust can arise from many activities such as:

  • Demolition work
  • Cutting masonry products such as paving slabs
  • Sandblasting

If advice is not followed and there is sufficient evidence of a nuisance, a formal notice may be served requiring measures to be taken to reduce or eliminate dust emissions.

Failure to comply with the notice could result in prosecution.

If you suspect a gas leak contact Transco immediately free of charge - telephone 0800 111999.

Smells and odours can come from either inside or outside your property. It may be easy to identify the source but odours can be carried for long distances in the wind, which makes it less easy to identify.

If the odour is inside your home then you should check the possible sources, such as blocked drains and hot light fittings.

If you can't identify the cause, we may be able to help and offer advice on possible sources.

If the odour comes from other premises and is found to be causing a nuisance, we can seek a remedy in law.

Collecting evidence is crucial to success in solving problems, especially if legal action has to be taken. You can obtain a log sheet if you wish to start logging incidents of odours that you wish us to investigate. You can contact us on 01744 676299 or email environmentalhealth@sthelens.gov.uk.

Agricultural odours

A common cause of complaints is agricultural odours. The process of muck spreading is a key factor in successful farming, which is part and parcel of living in a semi-rural area. The activity is often dictated by the weather, and positions of crops and can coincide with warmer days when people may have windows open or may be enjoying their gardens.

Complaints are usually associated with normal farming activities, such as the spreading of manure on farmland. Muck spreading is recognised as standard agricultural practice and odour can be expected from time to time. The smell usually lasts for a short period of time, and farmers are encouraged to use best practice whilst spreading muck in their fields. Read the Code of Good Agricultural Practice for farmers, growers and land managers for more information.

The Environmental Protection Team would be unlikely to investigate odour complaints relating to the spreading of manure on land unless the smell is excessive or prolonged.

Recycled sewage sludge (biosolids) from sewage treatment works

The spreading of recycled sewage sludge (biosolids) is a perfectly lawful activity and considered the best environmental option for managing treated sewage sludge arising from sewage treatment works. There may be an odour, for short periods of time, while the biosolids are moved, stockpiled or ploughed into fields.

Whilst it is agreed that the presence of odour from application of treated sewage sludge can be offensive it is our opinion that the temporary and occasional nature of such exposures when undertaken in accordance with the legislation does not constitute a statutory odour nuisance when balanced against all the other factors that have to be considered for making a determination in this respect.

United Utilities have produced a briefing around the use of sewage cake.

United Utilities informs the local authority of its intentions to deliver and stockpile biosolids.

All future notifications will be displayed and updated on a regular basis.

Light pollution is best described as artificial light that is allowed to illuminate areas not intended to be lit. We have a duty to take reasonable steps to investigate complaints of artificial light nuisance. The most common complaints include:

  • Domestic security lights
  • Commercial security lights
  • Sports facilities
  • Domestic decorative lighting
  • Exterior lighting of buildings

Lots of properties have security lighting installed and if they are positioned correctly, they are unlikely to cause any problems to neighbouring properties. In order to prevent light pollution causing a problem to your neighbours, consider the following before installing:

  • Is the light necessary?
  • Could security be achieved by other measures such as screening of an area?
  • Do the lights have to be on all night? Sensors or timers may be more suitable.
  • For external lights ensure that the lamp is no stronger than 150W, anything stronger creates too much glare reducing security. 
  • Indoor porches will only require a 9W lamp.
  • Ensure that the light is correctly adjusted so that they only illuminate the require area and does not throw light on to neighbouring properties.

If you feel you are affected by light pollution and you do not feel that you are able to approach the person responsible then we can investigate the matter. 

An officer will contact the alleged source of the light nuisance to request that they look in to the matter and make any adjustments necessary. They may also wish to witness the light problem at your property to decide if the light would be considered a nuisance.