Nuisance 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 an odour nuisance, what can I do?


  • Keep your yard tidy – rubbish and decomposing 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 report an odour nuisance?

Discuss with your neighbour

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

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  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.

If the issue is not being generated by an ERA, please follow the below steps to report your issue to 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 is not able to take action.
  • specific information on how often the issue is happening e.g. what time of day and on what day/s.

For information on how to report an issue, refer to council's Report an Issue webpage.

How does Council manage an odour nuisance report?

Council will conduct an inspection to determine if the issue is a breach of the relevant legislation, if a determination isn’t able to be made from a public area (e.g. road/footpath) an officer may attend the residence of the person who has reported the issue to assess the impact to them and their property.

If it is determined that the activity is in breach of the relevant legislation officers may undertake a number of actions depending on the specific circumstances of the issue, these including providing general education, a formal warning, a compliance notice or a fine.