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Agricultural odours

Spreading manure is standard agricultural practice.

Why is sewage sludge used?

The spreading of sewage sludge (biosolids):

  • improves soil quality
  • provides nutrients for crops
  • is a practical environmental option for managing sewage sludge arising from treatment works.


The use of biosolids is permitted and regulated by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) under Waste Management Licensing legislation.

In addition, the Sludge (Use in Agriculture) Regulations 1989, non-statutory codes of practice and an industry agreement (the Safe Sludge Matrix) exist to ensure that human, animal, and plant health are not put at risk.

Make a complaint

Statutory nuisance action against farmers for manure spreading is unlikely to be taken, except where the smell is offensive and prolonged.

In the case of sewage sludge, there is likely to be an odour while the biosolids are moved, stockpiled, or spread on fields. These odours can be offensive. The unpredictable nature of such exposures is unlikely to constitute a statutory nuisance, providing the best practicable means are used by farmers to reduce or counteract the effects of the odour.

This includes:

  • pre-treatment
  • incorporating it in the soil soon after spreading (direct injection, ploughing in, or covering)

We will investigate odour complaints about sewage derived biosolids. We work with SEPA to ensure the operator is complying with legislation and guidance.

Register a concern

For odours from stored sewage sludge, contact SEPA on 0800 807 060.

For odours from sewage sludge during spreading or once spread, contact Environmental Health.

To register a concern about the recurrence of odour in the future, or to describe a past experience, you may wish to contact: 

Contact Environmental Health




01294 324339


North Ayrshire Council, Housing & Public Protection, Environmental Health, Cunninghame House, Irvine, KA12 8EE