Odour can come from many sources, including septic tanks, compost heaps, rotting vegetation, fertilisers and rubbish. Sometimes odour can affect neighbours and interfere with their normal activities. If severe enough, it can impact on people's health.

If I am undertaking an activity that might cause odour pollution what can I do?


  • Keep your yard tidy – rubbish and vegetation can create odours.
  • Consider weather conditions before applying fertilisers – try to avoid windy and wet days.
  • Cover or enclose your compost and turn it regularly.

Septic tanks

An on-site sewerage facility is any system that stores, treats and disposes of household wastewater on the property.

  • Perform regular septic tank system maintenance as per manufacturer specifications (newer systems require quarterly maintenance inspections by a qualified plumber).
  • Ensure your septic trenches and effluent irrigation system is working correctly and not leaking or ponding effluent over the ground.
  • Ensure there are no cracks in your septic tank lid.

Grey water

Grey water is waste water generated from baths, showers, washbasins and laundries which can be diverted for use on lawns and gardens.

  • Move your grey water hose regularly and avoid placing it close to neighbours residences if possible.
  • Do not wash grease, fats or oils down your kitchen sink.
  • Do not put paint, hazardous chemicals, cigarette butts, pet bath water or sanitary napkins down the drain.
  • Use environmentally-friendly, low-sodium products.
  • Ensure there are no cracks in your grease traps.

How can I make a complaint about odour pollution?

Discuss with your neighbour

People are sometimes unaware that their activities are causing a nuisance. Ipswich City Council encourages all residents and business operators to talk to their neighbours first about nuisance problems and only make a complaint if the issue remains unresolved.

Before you proceed with lodging a complaint, please refer to the below question to see if Council is the appropriate contact for your issue.

Does your complaint relate to an area in Swanbank or New Chum?

If you answered yes, please contact the Odour Abatement Taskforce

If you answered no to the question listed above, please follow the below steps to lodge your complaint with Council. Have the following information ready:

  • details of the source and nature of the issue
  • where the issue is coming from and how it is  affecting you? – i.e the specific address/location of the nuisance, if you cannot provide the address council may be unable to take specific action.
  • specific information on how often the issue is happening e.g. what time and on what day/s

Contact Council by one of the methods below:

Note: If the issue is occurring outside of business hours, the complaint can be actioned by council’s after-hours patrol officers. Please contact Council when the issue is occurring (24 hours) so that an investigating officer can be tasked to attend to the location while the nuisance is occurring.

How does Council manage an air pollution complaint?

Council will initially attend the property causing the issue and determine if odour pollution is detectable or the cause is evident. As part of the inspection, the following can occur:

  • If no odour pollution is detected, Council Officers will contact the person who has made the report and see if further information is available or advise of the outcome.
  • If a breach is identified, Council will speak to the residents causing the issue to attempt to resolve it.  If necessary, Council may issue a Compliance Notice.
  • If a Compliance Notice is issued, a follow up process is put in place and will be undertaken to determine if the breach is ongoing after the expiration of the notice.
  • If the breach is found to be continued then further action, including the issuing of infringement notices, can occur.

If the alleged property consists of an industry involving landfill or composting, please refer to the Department of Environment and Science’s pollution hotline 1300 130 372 or pollutionhotline@des.qld.gov.au.  It is likely that these industries have an Environmental Authority to undertake an environmentally relevant activity (ERA) such as landfill or composting operations.  ERAs are industrial, resource or intensive agricultural activities with the potential to release contaminants into the environment.

Additionally, an ‘Odour Abatement Taskforce’ has been developed by the Department of Environment and Science to investigate and respond to concerns raised by the community about odours, dust and other environmental nuisance in and around Swanbank or New Chum. For further information, please see the Odour Abatement Taskforce webpage.