Environmental Health will investigate and take action to resolve a complaint relating to any of the following circumstances, if they are found to be causing nuisance or are prejudicial to health:

  • Any premises or part of premises (including drainage issues)
  • Smoke emitted from a premises
  • Fumes and gases
  • Dust, steam, smell, or other effluvia
  • Any accumulation or deposit
  • Any water covering land or land covered with water
  • Any animal kept in a place
  • Insects emanating from a premises
  • Artificial light emanating from a premises or a stationary object
  • Noise from a premises or emitted from a vehicle, machinery or equipment in the street

Initially we will try to resolve any statutory nuisance informally, but a notice can be served on the appropriate person requiring abatement of the statutory nuisance when necessary.

If your complaint is in relation to a Hebridean Housing Partnership (HHP) property, please contact them in the first instance on 0300 123 0773.

Scottish Water should be contacted on 0845 601 8855 regarding any defective sewer.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) should be contacted on 01851 706477 if your enquiry relates to the pollution of watercourses.

Please Contact Us for advice or further information.

Nuisance – Noise

No house or flat is totally sound proof and everyone can expect a degree of noise from neighbours.  It is a common source of disturbance and the most frequent complaints nationally are about barking dogs, loud music or TV, shouting, banging doors and DIY activities.  If you have been disturbed by noise from neighbours there could be a number of reasons, including neighbours behaving unreasonably, neighbours behaving normally but the sound insulation in the property is poor, the variance in sensitivity and tolerance between people, and a clash of lifestyles.

Before Reporting Noise Nuisance

Approach your neighbours and explain why you are being bothered by the noise.  Although you may find this difficult, it is surprising how often neighbours are unaware that they are causing a problem.  They may be prepared to do what they can to reduce the noise.  If the problem continues:

  • Start a diary recording the dates and times and cause of the noise, and the effects it has on you
  • Write to your neighbour explaining the problem and ask them to stop the noise nuisance
  • Keep a record of any conversations you have or letters you write
  • If your neighbours are tenants, discuss your problem with the landlord

Report Noise Nuisance

Noisy parties and loud music

You can contact the Police.  If they think the noise would give reasonable cause for annoyance the person responsible can be told to do something about it.  If the person fails to do so, they could be prosecuted.  The Police may also consider that a breach of the peace has taken place and charge the person with that offence.  In certain circumstances, the Police may also confiscate the noisy equipment to use as evidence.

Persistent noise

Please Contact Us for further information.

Nuisance – Septic Tanks

Many properties throughout the Outer Hebrides are not connected to mains drainage and use septic tanks as their sewerage system.  When working properly, a septic tank provides an effective way of treating wastewater from baths, sinks and toilets.

The purpose of a septic tank is to treat wastewater from a house or several houses which are not connected to the mains drainage system.  It is usually either a large rectangular box made of brick, stone or concrete, or a bottle-shaped plastic tank buried underground not far from the property it serves.  A septic tank works like a simple sewage treatment works and the treated effluent drains from the tank’s outlet pipe normally to a soakaway, or in exceptional circumstances to a watercourse.

Waste material is allowed to settle in the tank and is digested by natural bacteria which must be allowed to breed within the tank.  Over time partially-decomposed solids build up on the bottom of the tank.  This sludge has to be removed regularly to make sure the tank continues to work properly and to prevent the soakaway becoming choked.

De-sludging should normally take place every twelve months.  However, experience has shown that, depending on the tank’s size and usage, this period may be extended but not normally beyond two years.

Scottish Water (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) provide a septic tank emptying service where it is reasonably practicable to do so, and can be contacted on 0845 601 8855.

If you are an owner/user of a private septic tank, the quality of the discharge and its impact on the environment are your responsibility.  You may be held accountable for any pollution caused by your septic tank. You are also responsible for ensuring that:

The septic tank is properly maintained and emptied regularly;
The septic tank access lids are secure and in good working order; and
The drains to and from the septic tank, including the soakaway, are free-flowing and free from blockages

When a septic tank does not function properly it can cause odour nuisance, flooding and pollution. When a septic tank or its soakaway fails it may be determined a statutory nuisance.  An abatement notice may be served requiring the person responsible for the septic tank to ensure that any nuisance is removed.  The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) may also take action if a watercourse is being affected.

For information on how to register your septic tank discharge, contact the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) (Opens in a new window or downloads a file)

Useful Tips on the Use of Septic Tanks


  • Have your septic tank system professionally fitted, following local guidelines and regulations
  • Put all your wastewater from your home into the system
  • Know where your septic tank and drainage field are located
  • Have your system inspected regularly
  • Desludge the tank when necessary
  • Act immediately if you find a blockage or any sign of a problem
  • If necessary, seek professional help
  • Keep note of any maintenance work
  • Ensure all manhole covers are accessible
  • Ensure that any air vents are not blocked
  • Keep the drainage field protected
  • Divert other sources of water, like roof drains, away from septic tank systems
  • Wash dishes in a dishwasher whenever possible (fat is converted into soap in a dishwasher)
  • Use toilet fresheners, mild detergents, fabric conditioners and washing powders and liquids in moderation without upsetting the natural balance of the septicank. All active ingredients in soap and detergents should be biodegradable by law and should be safe for septic tanks in normal use
  • Use bleaches and disinfectants – but please use them sparingly – as they can kill the friendly bacteria which make the septic tank work


  • Fats, oils or heavy grease should not be poured down the drain
  • Paints, solvents and motor oils should not be put down the drain
  • Never dispose of garden chemicals and pesticides into the septic tank
  • Don’t use the toilet or kitchen sink as a rubbish bin
  • Don’t empty chemical toilets into drains or septic tanks
  • Nappies, sanitary items, plastic or similar items should not be disposed of into the system – "bag it and bin it" instead
  • Don’t dig or drive over the drainage field, or cover it with a hard surface
  • Don’t block air vents
  • Don’t desludge your tank too often
  • Don’t allow effluent to collect on the surface of the ground
  • Don't enter a septic tank – dangerous gases are produced by the natural treatment process

Please Contact Us if you require further information.

Nuisance - Smoke 

Information on Smoke Nuisance