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    • CommentAuthorWaddler
    • CommentTimeApr 23rd 2016
    I am so glad I have found this forum, I was starting to give up hope.

    We are in the same situation with a neighbour's smoke. Their smoke never seems to go away, most of the time it comes horizontal out of the chimney then drops straight to the ground. If the wind is in our direction it comes straight over to us hits our house and then sits in our garden comes into our kitchen and conservatory, we can't even sit out on the patio at times because the smoke is so strong it burns the back of your throat.

    There is a height difference in houses, our house is 4 storey and on a slightly higher level to the neighbour, their chimney is about the height of our downstairs windows, so our house is a huge barrier for the smoke to hit, there are also alot or large 15+ metre high trees around, the pressure seems to be downwards that the smoke never leaves the area.

    We have a neighbour who has the attitude of 'I'll do what I want and I don't care if affects you'. Unfortunately there are no other properties around it is just us against him.

    The problem has been going on for 2 years so far, the first year we did not say anything and hoped that he would look into the problem as he said that he was having draw issues with his chimneys. The second year reported it to env health, who took nearly 6 months to send a diary, eventually they wrote him a letter to inform him of the complaint and asked him if he was burning the correct fuel. The neighbour changed the cowl on the chimney which has made no difference at all. Just complained to Env health again as the smell has become really acrid, even standing in our garden for a few mins gave a burning sensation at the back of your throat. Env Health don't seem to want to know, he said unless he can see the smoke particles coming in our house through the windows he can not put it down as a complaint, does not matter that we can not sit in our conservatory, patio area or kitchen with the acrid smell of the smoke. The other problem we have is that every time we phone him to say it is happening, he can't make it out or turns up 4 hours later when it has died down.

    The neighbours have a woodburning cooker that is connected to a thermal store so we don't even get a break in the summer as it is going all the time, sometimes from 8am to 10pm. What makes it worse is that the summer is coming up and you want to open your windows but you know your house is going to get full of smoke.

    I'm still reading through the whole of the thread, but we can't live like this and we could never sell the house with this problem so we're digging our heels in and going to fight to get it sorted out, I know it is going to be a long hard slog.
    • CommentAuthortony
    • CommentTimeApr 23rd 2016
    Welcome, very sorry to hear about your problem, apart from things in the other thread I would go and your MP and tell them about the problem.
    • CommentTimeApr 23rd 2016
    I think the most important first steps to follow as learned from the other thread are the importance of gathering and keeping evidence - video, photographic and written records of all events. Plus sort out how you will finance the campaign - Mikeee5 is very fortunate that his insurance covered him for his struggle. You may get lucky with your MP and it won't do any harm but I wouldn't be too optimistic about getting any results that way.
    • CommentAuthorGotanewlife
    • CommentTimeApr 23rd 2016 edited
    Probably already been covered on the other thread but thinking more widely is there any way in English law to progress an actual bodily harm case privately through the civil courts? On the face of it (Prima facie), it looks like all the required elements are there for an offence to have been carried out, so it would only be if there is something specifically precluding such action. Of course no money: no chance.

    The other way would be through Which choosing to champion some change in the law/change in the interpretation of existing regs, but you would need to start with a really coherent case, including, I imagine, some evidence of the numbers of people affected, to stand any chance of getting them interested.

    Start a web site/discussion Forum solely for this issue, publicise, raise awareness, collect case evidence, be prepared for a long haul etc, etc.
    Posted By: GotanewlifeThe other way would be through Which choosing to champion some change in the law/change in the interpretation of existing regs

    I'm not sure that a change in the law is needed rather than than relevant authorities who have the duty to 'police' these issues to actually get off their backsides and do their jobs !!!!
    • CommentAuthorgyrogear
    • CommentTimeApr 24th 2016
    maybe this is the place to visit ?


    • CommentAuthorWaddler
    • CommentTimeApr 24th 2016
    Thanks for your advice.

    I am amazed that there is not more help from env health, the first time I reported the problem they were actually saying that it is really difficult for them to take action and I could take out a civil case myself if I wanted. That was even before even investigating the matter.

    One thing I have been looking into is that they built a new chimney for this woodburning stove which is over 1.5 metres above ridge height, as I understand from information that I have looked at on the internet planning permission should have been applied for this, so will be getting onto planning dept on Monday to see if they can help with the issue.

    Have already been taking photos and recording a diary, but the photos don't have a date stamp on them so I'm not sure if I should take video showing the exact date. Have also been recording wind direction and speed to show what days it affects us.
    • CommentAuthorMikeee5
    • CommentTimeApr 24th 2016
    Do you live in a smoke control area Amanda and is this a new installation?
    • CommentAuthorWaddler
    • CommentTimeApr 24th 2016
    No it isn't a smoke controlled area, the installation was done 2 years ago and they built a new chimney. The first year we didn't do anything as our neighbour said that he was having problems lighting and getting the woodburner going so we throught he might do something about the chimney problem himself. The second year we got in touch with Env Health who took around 6 months of constant phoning to send the diary through, then sent a letter to the neighbour asking if he was burning the correct fuel and that was it. I've got in touch with them again this month saying that the problem is still there when I mentioned about planning and building regs he didn't seem that bothered. The neighbours have told him that as far as they are concerned they are doing nothring wrong. We said that it can't be right that we sit in our own house which smells of smoke and we get a burning sensation in our throats from the fumes, he says he needs to witness it and it seems to be very dificult to get him here the exact times that it is happening.

    I've said that I can show video of the smoke going down to the ground constantly and he doesn't seem to want to know.
    • CommentAuthortony
    • CommentTimeApr 25th 2016
    I think EHOs talk about this at their regional meetings and have adopted a do nothing policy.
    • CommentTimeApr 25th 2016
    For a civil action you could apply the principles in Ryland v Fletcher, but you will need a brave solicitor.
    Posted By: tonyI think EHOs talk about this at their regional meetings and have adopted a do nothing policy.

    Could be a freedom of information request to ask the EHO how many cases of smoke pollution from domestic chimneys have been prosecuted against the number of complaints received - If the answer isn't ducked it could give an insight to their attitude.

    Waddler - you could try a complaint to the planning dept. about the unauthorised construction and at the same time a complaint to the building regs. dept. that the new (unauthorised) chimney fails to comply with the building regs, in that it fails to carry away the products of combustion and the pollution thereby caused is hazardous and in your opinion constitutes a safety risk and health hazard.

    Everything must be done in writing, phone calls are useless - no record. Over here I would use registered recorded letters as I have found that this guarantees a response.
    • CommentTimeApr 25th 2016
    Should be able to do it via email or fax, that is treated the same as registered/recorded mail I believe.
    • CommentTimeApr 25th 2016
    Posted By: WaddlerHave already been taking photos and recording a diary, but the photos don't have a date stamp on them so I'm not sure if I should take video showing the exact date. Have also been recording wind direction and speed to show what days it affects us.

    Video is useful. There may well be an option on your camera to include a date in the photo, assuming it is a digital one and it may store the date and time invisibly as 'metadata' in the image. So it's worth exploring the options on your camera to see what it can do. Even simpler would be to write down the details in your diary each time you take a picture, though it's a bit of a chore.
    • CommentAuthorWaddler
    • CommentTimeApr 25th 2016
    I've done some investigating today, the chimney with the woodburning cooker has not got planning permission but the cooker has been fitted by a HETAS engineer. The other 2 woodburners have not got building regs.

    The owner fitted the 2 other woodburners himself, one of them around 2 years ago and building control said that unless I can prove that they have been fitted in the last 2 years they don't need building regs and there is nothing they do about these. The owner has sent a lovely letter to environment health saying that these 2 woodburners were already in the house when he purchased it 6 years ago !!! I'm amazed how people can lie so easily. These two woodburners are not used as often as the cooker one but when used the smoke comes out and drops down to the ground as well.

    So said to building control, what about the illegal chimney, the woodburning cooker has been fitted by a HETAS engineer but clearly it does not comply as the combustion and pollution does not get carried away but instead comes horizontally out of the chimney and drops straight down to the ground all around our property and in the house when the wind is in our direction. His answer was, sorry can't help you as long as it has been fitted by a authorised person and signed off there is nothing we can do, get in contact with HETAS and see if they can help.

    I'm waiting for the planning enforcement officer to contact me and will putting my complaint in writing to planning and building control, but I can see straight away that everyone wants to pass the buck and not get involved.

    Good day today as the wind is not in our direction so we can breathe, we live our life looking at the wind direction every night to see if we are going to have a bad day the next day.

    Any advice on where to go next, I suppose I can try HETAS and see what they have to say.
    Posted By: Waddlerbut I can see straight away that everyone wants to pass the buck and not get involved.

    Yup - this has been Mikes problem over on the other thread.
    You could write to the HETAS governing body asking if their engineers have any duty of car to ensure that the chimneys that they fit stoves to are a) fit for purpose and b) comply with the building regs part J, specifically

    1.1 Requirements J1 to J4 will be met if the building provisions for the safe accommodation of combustion appliances:

    b. enable normal operation of appliances without the products of combustion becoming a hazard to health.
    2.8 Flues should be high enough to ensure sufficient draught to clear the products of combustion. The height necessary for this will depend upon the type of the appliance, the height of the building, the type of flue, and the number of bends in it, and an assessment of local wind patterns.

    Depending upon their reply you could consider a complaint against the engineer concerned.

    You should write to the building regs people with a complaint that the chimney (installed without PP ?) fails to meet building regs part J mentioned above - specifically para 1.1, b and 2.8 and ask them to take urgent action.

    Ditto to the planning dept.

    I wouldn't wait for the planning dept to get back to you, - get the letters off now.

    The building regs specify a minimium standard for chimneys which in most circumstances is OK however the caveat is that the minimum standard must work (para 2.8) and if it does not then the minimum standard does not comply!

    Given the chimney was extended the owner or installer must have been expecting problems - otherwise why extend it - clearly not enough has been done.

    For the other 2 stoves, of course the owner would say they came with the house. The only thing to do here is check with the previous owners to confirm that the stoves were not in the house or the estate agent to see if they have back details (unlikely) and if you know the make/model of the stoves check that they were marketed when the owners bought the house, check local suppliers to see if they will admit selling the stove...etc. Then act based on results.

    everything in writing and logged and don't accept phone calls saying "I got your letter and I would like to say.......'. Ask for the reply in writing as this will be used in legal proceedings!! Phone calls count for nothing.
    • CommentAuthorMikeee5
    • CommentTimeApr 26th 2016 edited
    The head of planning and regulatory services told me that anything to do with the performance of the chimney was the responsibility of HETAS Peter. This was in his last letter back in 2014. Will be interesting to se what Amanda's shower of , I mean fully proffesional people have to say!
    • CommentAuthorWaddler
    • CommentTimeApr 26th 2016
    Thanks for your advice Peter, I'm drafting letters to planning, building control and Hetas today.

    I can't believe how long Mike's has gone on for, the thought of having to battle for that long and still not get it resolved is depressing.
    • CommentTimeApr 26th 2016
    Have you considered a civil action for private nuisance:

    It seems that there is a reasonableness test that ignores issues where the complainant is being overly sensitive so it would be important to have a third party expert advice to support your case before you proceed to take action.

    Note though that if you start an action against a neighbour or have a dispute you will almost certainly have to declare to a future buyer. The buyer will then be aware of the nature of the problem and it may affect a sale.
    • CommentAuthorMarkyP
    • CommentTimeApr 26th 2016
    if the property was sold within the last 6 years and it was featured on a popular UK property marketing website (rightmove), then the details should still be online. Do a "sold prices" search using your postcode, you may just find the details complete with floor plan, photos and agent's description all online. if these details don't show the stoves then you have some evidence that the owner installed them.

    talk to your councillor, try to meet in person at their ward clinic. Express your dismay at the poor service so far from planning, BC and EH. Getting the councillor on side might help apply a little pressure on planning, EH and BC.

    Ring the local paper. Our local rag regularly features stuff like this, especially if there's a "council is inept" sub-plot. Even if they wont run a story, you can tell your councillor you are talking to the paper which might help focus his/her mind a little.

    basically make lots of noise!
    • CommentAuthorMike1
    • CommentTimeApr 26th 2016
    Pressuring your local council to apply the statutory nuisance provisions of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 looks the 1st course of action. As mentioned bu MarkyP, try your local councilor and consider the local press.

    Otherwise you do have the option of pursing the matter yourself - some advice here that looks helpful:
    • CommentTimeApr 26th 2016 edited
    .That piece by Richard Buxton is interesting.
    Posted By: Mikeee5The head of planning and regulatory services told me that anything to do with the performance of the chimney was the responsibility of HETAS. This was in his last letter back in 2014.

    Opps you are correct - from the HETAS web site
    HETAS Objectives
    Promote and monitor continuous improvement in the safe installation and use of solid fuel appliances, systems, chimneys & flues, and in their maintenance.

    Clearly the HETAS engineer failed in his duty of care when he signed off the installation. When you make your complaint to them it may be worth asking HETAS if a certificate can be withdrawn if an error in certification has been made by signing of an installation which manifestly does not work. If it can and the certificate is withdrawn then the stove can not be used until a certificate is obtained.

    The web site also gives names and addresses to whom complaints should be made. So Waddler get the letter off, but be prepared for the usual smoke screen (sorry couldn't resist it) about the use of the wrong type of fuel or a badly operated stove - none of which IMO will affect the performance of the chimney in its ability to carry away the products of combustion as per the building regs.

    I would be surprised if the building regs dept. can wash their hands totally of a contravention of the building regs.. It would be interesting to know who is the authority of last resort. Probably still worth a letter of complaint to the building regs dept. so that the fact of the complaint is on record.
    • CommentAuthorMike1
    • CommentTimeApr 27th 2016
    Further to my comment above, I wouldn't expect you to get far with Building Control or HETAS. Domestic chimneys are designed following set principles that work in most cases, rather than by computer modelling the fluid dynamics around particular groups of buildings. If those principles have been followed then for Building Regs purposes the chimney will be 'deemed to satisfy' the regulations. I suspect that the HETAS view will be similar.
    • CommentAuthorMikeee5
    • CommentTimeApr 27th 2016
    HETAS recognise that the minimum requirements won't work in all instances Mike1. They checked my neighbours installation and concluded that there was a smoke nuisance problem associated with my neighbours stove compliant or none compliant. It's the local authorities that need educating !!!
    • CommentAuthorKB1
    • CommentTimeMay 9th 2016
    You could ask HETAS to inspect - if your neighbour refuses then there is nothing HETAS can do (that was my experience) but its worth a try.

    Try sending a press release to your EH and Planning officers - mention them in the article if you have their names.

    Heres one I've just sent to Ceredigion County Council
    • CommentAuthorTriassic
    • CommentTimeMay 17th 2016 edited
    Posted By: KB1Try sending a press release to your EH and Planning officers - mention them in the article if you have their names.

    Heres one I've just sent to Ceredigion County Council
    Could you provide a link please.
    We have had a statutory nuisance complaint running all winter for smoke pollution from a neighbours wood burner (4-5 times a week) and have recorded every incident, logged them with the council and called out the Duty EHO whenever the smoke from the neighbours chimney was detected, we have corresponded with our MP and got the local councillor on our side (and their input seems to have motivated the EHO's looking after our case to be a little more reactive). We are keeping a thorough record of all the incidents, visits and meetings kept and will, if we have to, be used to get the nuisance/health risk stopped.

    As part of our evidence collection we purchased our own air monitor to record PM's 2.5 & 10 TVOC's CO2, temp and humidity and this has proved invaluable as part of our argument about the nuisance and gives us solid evidence of the often invisible health risks of the smoke from our neighbours chimney.

    On a second front we are also challenging the Council to enforce the relavant Building Regs, (installation does not comply) as regardless of who certifies the installation they are the enforcing authority (just because the installation is certified by a HETAS installer does not guarantee it will comply with the regs) and as HETAS will tell you they only approve/certify installers and do not have enforcement powers. Therefore in my opinion the building regulations legislation states that the Councils Building Control Officers are the only ones with the authority to enforce the rules and they possibly need to be challenged in writing to act or explain why they won't.
    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTimeMay 22nd 2016 edited
    Some notes on enforcing the Building Regs here..

    "If a person carrying out building work contravenes the Building Regulations, the local authority or another person may decide to take them to the magistrates' court where they could be fined up to £5000 for the contravention, and up to £50 for each day the contravention continues after conviction."

    I wonder what they mean by "or another person"?
    • CommentAuthorTriassic
    • CommentTimeMay 23rd 2016 edited
    Posted By: CWatters

    I wonder what they mean by "or another person"?
    A neighbour maybe?
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