In search of a definitive ranking, the home fragrance experts at packaging firm Lifestyle Packaging recently asked every council in the UK (335 in total) how many nuisance smell complaints they received from local residents between 2015-2019.
They even produced an interactive map detailing the most common complaints for each region. The firm chose to focus on smell complaints per capita, to give an impression of the quantity of smell complaints, proportional to the local population.
The 2015-2019 dataset contained 114,411 complaints from councils which had a combined population of 58,343,740. As the firm explained, this means in the last five years, 1 in every 500 UK residents has submitted a smell complaint to their council.
Bassetlaw in North Nottinghamshire seemed to score highest with an average of one complaint for every 62 residents in the last five years. The main gripes centred on commercial premises and industrial smells.
In second place was The City of London, whose 8,700 permanent residents submitted one complaint per 74 inhabitants. They were mostly concerned with the smell of commercial operations. One resident complained about ongoing “painting work”.
Councils receiving the least complaints included Barking & Dagenham (0 complaints); Folkestone and Hythe (Shepway), Kent (2 complaints); and Bromley, London (7 complaints).
The fragrance experts also ranked the most common smell complaints. Most were general or unspecified complaints (71), followed by domestic complaints (to do with resdential homes) (46), agricultural (40), bonfires (37), commercial (including restaurants and shops) (31), sewage/waste (from sewage works, waste premises and landfills) (31), commercial/industrial (from trade or building sites) (30), air quality (pollution, dust or fumes) (18), animals (dogs, pet odours and so on) (16) and industrial (from factories and manufacturing premises) (16).
The areas where complaints were mostly about sewage and waste were in the North West of Scotland – Argyll and Bute, Highland, and Eilean Siar councils.
• See www.lifestylepackaging.com (in the blog section).