When is a nuisance a nuisance?

Opinion

When is a nuisance a nuisance?

A recent ruling from the Technology and Construction court has given more guidance on the unpleasant situation of an industrial neighbour that is perceived to be causing an odour nuisance.

In the case - Barr & others v Biffa Waste Services Limited - Biffa ran a landfill site with full planning permission and environmental permits. Some 150 local residents weren't happy and argued that the site was creating a smell nuisance.

The court decided that (not) having the appropriate permissions fundamentally determines if the land in question is being used reasonably. By extrapolation, that because the complaints were not based on negligence the nuisance claim failed because the land was being used reasonably. However, the court said that if negligence had been proved, there would need to be 52 odour complaint days a year to trigger an odour nuisance. A high threshold to cross.

This was first published in August 2011

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