Skip to content
  1. Do it online
  2. Login
  3. Have your say
  4. My Durham

Dust nuisance


For dust to be considered a nuisance, it must be unreasonable and have a large impact on the use or enjoyment of your home. It does not cover issues such as dust landing on a car or outside furniture.

Most dust issues relate to construction, demolition sites, quarries or other commercial activity. It can create extra problems when soil is dry during the Summer. Unfortunately, dust is unavoidable and can be difficult to fully control. We can investigate the impact of dust on your property and take action when it is a Statutory Nuisance.

A Statutory Dust Nuisance is something which is unreasonable and causes substantial interference in the use and enjoyment of a person's house. This means that any impact must affect the way you live in your home and we cannot take action for matters such as dust on cars or outside areas etc.

What to do if you are affected by dust

In most cases we advise that the informal approach is the best course of action in the first instance. This gives the person responsible for the dust time to fix the problem, especially if they are not aware that a problem exists or to what extent it affects people nearby.

  • Talk to the person responsible for causing the problem - they could be unaware that they are causing a problem. Do not attempt to do this if you feel threatened.
  • Write to them - you may prefer to explain what the problem is in a letter as this can feel less confrontational.
  • Most construction companies and quarries will have a complaints process.

If this does not work, we may be able to investigate your complaint.

What we can not investigate

  • dust from traffic and passing lorries (HGVs)
  • dust from domestic premises

What we are unlikely to investigate

  • cosmetic dust, for example dust landing on cars or gardens
  • short term rural land use, for example ploughing or harvesting

What we can investigate

  • excessive dust from construction works (dust from construction and demolition work is unavoidable - we can only take action when dust is above what you would reasonably expect and where good practices are not being followed)
  • quarries
  • construction waste processing sites
  • commercial operations, for example, a sawmill

    We are unable to investigate anonymous complaints so you must provide your name, contact details and address to enable your complaint to be dealt with. 

    What we will do

    We will assess your complaint to decide whether it could be a Statutory Dust Nuisance under the Environmental Protection Act 1990. If it is covered, we will investigate your complaint further. If it is not, then we will let you know and advise you who might be able to help if possible.

    How a dust complaint will be investigated

    We need to record the following sort of information to see whether the problem meets the legal test of 'Statutory Nuisance':

    • how long it lasts
    • how often it happens 
    • the surrounding environment
    • the level and type of dust

    In most instances, you will be asked to initially keep a record of when you are affected. 

    We may also collect other information on site visits, and contact with the person causing the dust. We do not share your details at any time.

    Some commercial processes that cause dust in the air need to have an environmental permit. This is issued by us or the Environment Agency and contains conditions on what can be released. If a permit has been issued, we will pass your complaint to the people who issued the permit.

    Dust from building sites may also be controlled by the planning permission that has been granted. In these cases, we will pass your complaint to planning enforcement.

    What happens next

    The evidence gathered in the investigation will decide what happens next.

    If the evidence shows the presence of a Statutory Nuisance, we will serve a legal notice. This will make it against the law for the person causing the nuisance to carry on doing so. If they continue, we may take the person to court or take other steps to ensure the Notice is followed.

    If the issue is investigated and is not a Statutory Nuisance then we will not take further formal action and we will let you and the other person know.

    Contact us
    Customer Services
    03000 26 0000