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Neighbour Creating A Smell From Hell

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  • Neighbour Creating A Smell From Hell

    I live in a great neighbourhood, we (family) moved here 22 years ago in the winter of 81 (worst winter I can ever remember) and since that time only had one neighbour that was from hell, he wasn't that bad really just stupid and ignorant and moved away years ago to be replaced by music teachers (pianos, flutes etc.)

    But last Sunday (31st June) this horrible burning smell came in through my windows, thought someone was burning something bad on a bonfire, looked out and couldn't see any smoke, this went on all evening right into the night so I went out with a powerful torch trying to find the supposed bonfire but found nothing other than the smell had traveled several hundred feet along the road and up the hill (we live on the side of a hill). As there are a few fields dotted around the area with sheep and horses my mum thought that someone had set fire to manure, which it seemed logical at the time because of the acrid stench in the air, but yesterday when I went out again (48 hours after it started and had continued to go on) to try and find where it was coming from I saw smoke coming out of a chimney vent in the house opposite us

    The neighbours who are creating this smell from hell (almost literally because they're burning coal) have been living here longer than we have and we haven't ever had a reason to complain about them.

    Does anyone have any ideas how we approach this situation? as they're burning coal it seems logical they have a whole batch of this foul smelling stuff which won't burn up in a week or so. I'm sitting here indoors sweating madly because I have to keep my windows closed in this bright summer sun - I won't cope if this continues, I don't feel up to going to them and talking about it as I'm not very good at thinking on my feet in conversations and standing my ground (plus I got the flu at the moment).

    There's a primary school at the end of our road and yesterday morning I heard this kid go "yeuch!" and his mother commenting on the foul stench. The annoying thing about the stench is that it's not 100% constant meaning I'll open my window because I need some cool fresh air and I get some but a bit later the stench comes in and I have to close the window asap

    Are there any laws regarding smell pollution? I don't want to call the authorities on them but this acrid stench just can't continue, maybe telling them about the smell and how it's breaking laws (if they exist) might get them to stop burning that coal.

  • #2
    I seem to think if you contact your EHO they will be able to help,

    it might come under (just) the smog law thing

    I will see if I can find anything out for you,

    I dont have any nose plugs but have got some dolly pegs!!

    BTW welcome to the forum!!


    • #3
      ok I have found this from our friends at NSCA

      NSCA smoke/smell

      I hope this helps you a little, you will find it under pollution, fact sheet 7


      • #4
        Hi Haku and welcome to the Forum

        How awful to have to smelly smoke coming into your home - it's bad enough with one-off bonfires in November. The problem with nuisance like this is similar to that of noise: you never know when it's going to start or stop and how bad it's going to be.

        Is there no possible way you could speak to your neighbour? It may be the easiest way to do it. If you find it difficult to put things into words on the spot, then why not write something down and read from that when you speak to them? Or, maybe put something in a letter to them?

        Presumably they can smell it as well?

        If you were wanting to make a formal complaint to the Environmental Health department (EH), they would expect you to have approached your neighbour in the first instance. I know you say that you don't want to make a complaint, but how are you going to try and resolve it otherwise?

        Is there perhaps someone else who could speak to them if you don't feel up to it?

        Wishing you all the best with this one - hope the smell goes soon.


        • #5
          Just a quick response as everything else has been covered here - but you could ask some questions as to whether or not you live in a smoke free zone.

          If you do -then from memory - I understand you are only allowed to burn smokeless fuel if you are caught burning anything other then usually you get a ticking off by the EHO and anything more persistent is a fine.


          • #6
            Hi Haku and welcome to the forum

            It does seem strange that burning coal would result in the kind of stench you mention. Maybe my memory is going, but I recall the days when most people burned coal and although there is some smell, I wouldn't describe it as a stench.

            Are you sure they are only burning coal? Have any other neighbours mentioned the smell? It may be a good idea to sound out other neighbours and find out what they think.

            I agree with the other members, get in touch with your local Environmental Health Office and ask them for help. I think in most urban areas nowadays smokeless fuel is the only sort of fuel that can be burned. What colour is the smoke? I seem to recall that if the smoke is white or light grey then it is breaking the Clean Air Act.

            Hope your problem is resolved sooner rather than later

            "Almost anything you do will seem insignificant, but it is very important that you do it. You must be the change that you wish to see in the world." Gandhi


            • #7

              Thanks for all the replies. The neighbour who's making the smell doesn't come out of her house much unless it's to mow her large lawn so I don't know if she knows what kind of effect the burning is having.

              I don't think we live in a smoke free zone, our house is almost in the countryside, on the edge of it anyway and most of the houses along our road are 50+ years old and all have chimneys, ours is over 100+ years old and we do burn wood in the winter time.

              We're going to give it a week and see if it carries on like it started, if it does then my mum will go and have a talk with her (she's much more diplomatic than I could ever be) and see how things go from there. Good to know that there are laws in place against continual annoyance smells like this, just hope we don't have to get someone to enforce it, don't want a war.


              • #8
                Blimey who's got a coal fire in this weather?

                Our last house had a coal fire and it doesn't stink - or shouldn't do - what the heck are they burning?

                So they haven't had a coal fire before and suddenly start to, creating a foul stench? In June? I'm fascinated!

                Burning coal really shouldn't have an offensive smell re Mistey's comments, which makes me think they're burning something else. Maybe something is stuck up their chimney. Maybe she doesn't want to ruin her lawn/garden and is burning something on her fire to get rid of it?

                A call to the EHD will get you the info on whether you're in a smoke free zone or not, but rural areas tend not to be.

                We had a bonfire at the weekend and amongst other things burnt a smelly old carpet that the dogs had weed on while it was in the outbuilding and that didn't smell bad as it burnt - so what is she burning??!! Have you seen her husband recently...


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Scooby@Jul 2 2003, 6:57 PM

                  ... live in a smoke free zone.

                  If you do -then from memory - I understand you are only allowed to burn smokeless fuel ...

                  slightly off-topic, sorry: I believe this includes seasoned (dried out) wood/logs, as well as the Coalite stuff.
                  "Poor Tom shall lead thee" (King Lear)


                  • #10
                    They've always had deliveries of coal every year since I can remember, but this time we suspect they've got some cheap coal with impurities in, my mum remembers something years ago about power stations burning some cheap imported coal that had a really bad smell to it (tried to look up that info on the net but found nothing).

                    Haven't seen her husband recently as he died earlier this year of old age (over 70) and was a bit grumpy from what little I remember of him, as I say my road isn't like the Aussie soap, we generally keep to ourselves.

                    I think I caught a whiff of the smell last night but couldn't tell for sure, blocked nose because of this damned flu I got, and my windows have been open all last night and all day today with no smell coming in so fingers crossed it's stopped.


                    • #11
                      Cheap coal with impurities. Is it similar to a sulphurous smell? I'm vaguely remembering someone I know complaining of a stink of rotten eggs when their neighbours had the fire going.

                      We once had a wood burner, it was like living in a steam sauna, there was something not functioning that could never be put right, no matter what we did.

                      So, she might have bought a dirty (!) great load of this cheap coal to assail your nostrils for the forseeable future. This lady might have ordered her normal coal delivery and this is what she got. Cheap stuff.

                      Hope your mum's words can get somewhere with it, if only for the old lady to revert back to the coal she used to use. I can sympathise, horrible smells can be all pervading.

                      Reference to her husband was because of the strange smell of burning...


                      • #12
                        Ooh, Spinky Did you think she might have her own private crematorium then?

                        "Almost anything you do will seem insignificant, but it is very important that you do it. You must be the change that you wish to see in the world." Gandhi


                        • #13
                          Nasty smell.... had coal fires for a couple of years, and lived around other neighbours who did times had no money and burnt allsorts(rap my knuckles)...however, short of burning bodies or tyres, what smells that bad? Strange.