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Welcome to birmingham.gov.uk

Environmental Health: Pollution

Birmingham City Council monitors and regulates pollution levels across the city.
We will investigate reports of air, odour and light pollution. Please read the sections below to learn more about what we can do to tackle different types of pollution in Birmingham.

Find related information:

Air pollution

You can report three types of air pollution using the form at the bottom of this page:

  • Smoke from bonfires and chimneys at all premises
  • Dust arising from commercial / industrial premises
  • Smoke and dust arising from construction / demolition sites

Air quality in Birmingham

Apart from those incidents which can be reported above, we also monitor the larger issue of air quality in Birmingham.

As part of these responsibilities the Environmental Protection Unit produces the annual Air Quality Action Plan and issue Environmental Permits to companies that have the potential to pollute their environment.

To improve air quality in 1995 Birmingham was designated as a smoke control area. This means that residents are only allowed to burn authorised fuels in an open fireplace or use an exempt appliance with the correct fuel. Burning coal is not permitted in Birmingham.

We do not encourage residents to have garden bonfires but garden waste is better disposed of at one of our local household recycling centres (tips) or by subscribing to our Garden Waste Collection Service. It is not illegal to have a garden bonfire but there are laws against the nuisance they cause which can result in fines of up to £5,000.

Visit DEFRA for up to date information on air pollution levels in Birmingham.

Odour pollution

We will investigate most complaints about odour. You can report an odour complaint using the form at the bottom of this page.

Odour complaints include:

  • Chemical
  • Animal or human waste
  • Decaying matter
  • Musty or damp smells
  • Burning

We cannot deal with cooking odours or smoking odours from domestic properties.

Odour problems from domestic properties

We can take action under Section 80 of The Environmental Protection Act 1990 in cases where odours or fumes from a domestic property constitutes a statutory nuisance. Whether or not odour constitutes a statutory nuisance depends on several factors, including:

  • strength
  • duration
  • frequency
  • whether they would interfere with the “average” person's reasonable enjoyment of their property. For instance, an unpleasant odour in someone’s garden in the winter that does not enter their house would not constitute a statutory nuisance as the “average” person would not be expected to spend significant periods of time in their garden during cold weather. However, during warmer weather they are more likely to be in the garden and therefore the same odour would be more likely to constitute a statutory nuisance.

Light pollution

You can report light nuisance using the form at the bottom of this page.

The light nuisance must be substantial (for example, preventing you from sleeping). We cannot take action if normal levels of artificial light shine onto your property.

Some commercial properties are exempt from prosecution:

  • railways
  • tramways
  • bus premises and any associated facilities
  • public service vehicle operating centres
  • goods vehicle operating centres
  • prisons - including Youth Offenders Institutions.

If the light pollution comes from an exempted source, you may still be able to make a case in civil law.

Light nuisance caused by your neighbour

Before you report a complaint against your neighbour, we advise you to speak to them as they may not be aware of the light troubling you. Your neighbour will certainly be upset if they hear of a complaint from the council so do approach them first by politely requesting:

  • moving or partially shading the light
  • fitting an infra red sensor
  • using a lower wattage bulb as they are much cheaper and far more efficient.

If your neighbour is unwilling to take action please report it. Press the 'report a problem with light nuisance' button above. Once you have reported a problem with light nuisance an Environmental Health officer will contact you to arrange a visit.

Report pollution to Birmingham City Council