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Environmental services

Our environmental services work towards improving the public health of the district. 

This includes all aspects of the natural and built environment that may affect human health. This department aims to protect the health, safety, and environment for all our residents, traders, and visitors.

We work closely with many partners to ensure compliance and enforcement of the environmental legislation in place.

Please see below for environmental services we provide assistance with.

Air Pollution / Bonfires Toggle accordion

UK Air information
Pollution Forecast by the met office 


There are no bye-laws controlling the times and frequencies at which domestic bonfires are allowed. However complaints can be dealt with under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (EPA) to prevent a statutory nuisance from bonfire smoke and ash. 

To make a complaint please complete the Bonfire/Odour Diary Sheet (PDF) to record dates, times, and duration of the bonfire for at least two weeks and return it to us using the Bonfire Complaint button below. This will allow you to attach the form.

Please read our Privacy Notice (PDF) before submitting a complaint.

Bonfire Complaint

All businesses have a duty of care under Sections 33 and 34 of the EPA to ensure that their waste is disposed of correctly. Burning is not an acceptable method to dispose waste and we would take action immediately.

If you witness a commercial bonfire, please contact us immediately

Please read our Privacy Notice (PDF) before submitting a complaint.

Commercial bonfire complaint


Air Quality Management and Monitoring

Management: The Environment Act 1995 requires local authorities to regularly review and assess the air quality and to determine whether air quality objectives are likely to be achieved. If objectives are not achieved (NO2 concentration exceeding an annual average of 40μg∙m-3) we declare an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) and prepare an Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) setting out measures we intend to put in place in pursuit of the objectives. There is currently one AQMA in the district.

Please see our Air Quality Annual Status Report (2023) for further information.

Monitoring: The district contributes to the Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire Air Pollution Monitoring Network. For more information and data/reports please visit the Herts and Beds Air Quality Monitoring website.

We have 43 monitoring sites measuring Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) across the district. NO2 is of potential concern to environmental health as it can cause breathing difficulties, throat and eye irritation, and more severe health effects depending on concentration. Common sources include motor vehicles and power stations.

Permitted Processes: You must hold an environmental permit from the Council if you either carry out Part A(2) or Part B activities or if you run a Part A(2) or Part B installation or mobile plant. For more information about these permits please visit GOV.UK.

If an industrial process is required by law to have a Part A(2) or B permit the company must make an application to the Council. The application must contain details on what will be undertaken at the site and the potential effects it may have on air quality along with the appropriate fee. 

Fees for environmental permits are set by the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Apply online for an environmental permit Part A(2)
Apply online for an environmental permit Part B

To make an application, please complete and attach the forms using the environmental permit button.

Please read our Privacy Notice (PDF) before submitting.

Environmental Permit

If you make any changes to your business that relate to this permit you need to tell us so that we can consider if changes to the permit are required.

Contaminated Land Toggle accordion

Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 defines ‘contaminated land’ as land where substances in, on or under that land (e.g. heavy metals, fuels, oils, tars, chemical substances, gases, vapours and/or asbestos) could cause:

  1. significant harm or significant possibility of such harm to people, the built and/or natural environment
  2. significant pollution of surface waters or groundwater, or there is significant possibility of such pollution being caused.

This contamination is usually associated with historical industrial uses such as former factories, works, petrol stations, mines, refineries and/or waste landfill sites.

What We Do

Our Contaminated Land Strategy outlines how we deal with contaminated land in the District.  It details how we identify and prioritise sites for further investigation and includes information on remediation, liability and enforcement.

We maintain a Contaminated Land Register.

St Leonard’s Court, Sandridge

On 20th June 2002 the Council determined St Leonard’s Court, Sandridge as ‘contaminated land’ under Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.  On 8th August 2002, due to the groundwater contamination, it was designated a ‘special site’ and the enforcement responsibility was transferred from the Council to the Environment Agency.  On 8th November 2005 the Environment Agency served a Remediation Notice on the ‘appropriate persons’.  Following an appeal this Notice came in to force 4th February 2010.   

The Environment Agency’s first Remediation Notice expired on 21st July 2019.  The Agency has served the appropriate persons with a second Remediation Notice dated 17th July 2019.  This has been suspended following an appeal.

Development of Land

Under the National Planning Policy Framework land is required to be suitable for its proposed use.  Where a site is affected by contamination, responsibility for securing a safe development rests with the developer and/or landowner.

The Environmental Compliance Team are a consultee as part of the planning process and are routinely consulted on:

  • proposed development at sites with a historical use that may have resulted in ground contamination
  • proposed developments with an intended end use that is considered to be particularly sensitive to contamination (e.g. housing, schools, hospitals, children’s play areas).

In association with the Environment Agency and other Local Authorities in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire, we have jointly published technical advice for applicants, developers, land owners and consultants involved in the redevelopment of land potentially affected by contamination, or where a sensitive end use is proposed.

Please note: This guidance is subject to revision from time to time in line with Government requirements, legislation changes and best practice guidance.

We are mindful of the potential cost implications of a formal land contamination assessment and investigation for small developments (e.g. one or two houses) with a proposed sensitive end use on existing residential or greenfield sites.  The following questionnaire has been prepared for such scenarios.  We will use this information to assess whether a more formal assessment of land contamination is required.

Environmental Information Requests

The Environmental Compliance Team can provide factual information on a property or plot of land to anyone with a specific interest (e.g. house buyers, vendors, solicitors, environmental consultants).

Should you wish to make such a request you will need to provide the following information:

  • the property, or land, address with a post code and if possible a plan confirming its location
  • the nature of your interest in the land
  • whether there are specific issues prompting your enquiry and/or an indication of the type of information required.

To make a request please use the Environmental information button and provide details of the information you require.

Please read our Privacy Notice (PDF) before submitting a request.

Environmental Information

External Links

Drinking Water Toggle accordion

Drinking water quality is primarily the responsibility of the water company supplying the water.  In the St Albans District, Affinity Water are the utility company supplying the mains water.  You can check the water quality in your area here.

Water companies are regulated by the Drinking Water Inspectorate which publishes annual reports on drinking water quality across the country.

The quality of river water and groundwater is the responsibility of the Environment Agency.

External Links

Noise Nuisances Toggle accordion

Domestic and Commercial Noise: You should refer noise complaints straight to the Police if it sounds like a crime is being committed.

If the noise is domestic we advise that you speak to your neighbour first and try to resolve the problem yourself before complaining to the Council. 

If you cannot resolve the noise issue informally complete the Noise Complaint form.

Noise Complaint

We will contact you advising you that we have received your complaint, we will also contact the person or business making the noise and advise them that we have received a complaint(s) of noise and request that they take measures to reduce the noise. Please note we do not disclose who made the complaint.

If the noise persists once we have contacted them, please complete a Noise Diary Sheet (PDF) recording the dates, times, duration and type of noise for a period of at least two weeks and return it to us using the Noise Complaint button below. This will allow you to attach the form.

We will use this information as the basis for further action. If our investigation confirms that there is a persistent noise issue we can class it as a statutory nuisance and serve an abatement notice. If this is not complied with we can prosecute or take default action to remedy the problem.

A statutory nuisance is a noisy disturbance that materially, and therefore significantly, interferes with a person's lawful rights to the enjoyment of their home. Audibility alone is not necessarily an indication of nuisance as neighbours living in close proximity are always likely to be aware of each other's activities and it is not reasonable to expect a silent environment. Nuisance is judged from the viewpoint of the average person's sensitivity to noise and no allowance can be made for people on shift work of those with particularly sensitive hearing. Case law also requires that the noise must arise from the unreasonable behaviour or conduct of the person responsible. The law does not specify noise levels or set time limits but requires an objective judgement to be made by us based upon factors such as:

  • How often the noise occurs
  • Duration of the noise
  • Volume
  • Time of day/night
  • The character of the noise (whether it has any particularly annoying characteristics)
  • The nature of the area

We must also consider the reasonable likelihood of us being able to gather the necessary evidence to witness the noise in the case of random or short-lived noise occurrences is rarely possible.

We can take action for noise disturbance from:

  • Amplified music
  • Barking dogs
  • Building works at unreasonable times
  • Audible intruder alarms

We cannot take enforcement action for lifestyle noises such as:

  • Footballs
  • Dropping of objects/moving of furniture
  • Lights being switched on/off
  • General talking
  • Shouting/singing, except in cases where disturbances is caused frequently at night (after 11pm) and for prolonged periods
  • Slamming doors
  • Toilet flushing
  • Babies crying
  • Children playing

This is because case law from the House of Lords states that noise from the ordinary and reasonable use of residential premises cannot be considered a nuisance. Case law also prevents us from requiring any owner/occupier of premises to carry out works to improve sound insulation.

Some noise issues can be resolved easily, especially if your neighbour is not aware that they are disturbing you. We can deal with these issues informally or by way of mediation. Some complaints may take longer to resolve and we may need to install noise recording equipment in your home. Please be aware that there may be waiting times for the noise equipment and we may need to take enforcement action in a Magistrates Court to resolve the issue.

Please read our Privacy Notice (PDF) before submitting a complaint.

Construction Noise: We have adopted the following hours for noisy work on construction and demolition sites: Monday – Friday (7:30-18:00); Saturday (8:00-13:00) and at no time on Sundays or Public Holidays

Out-of-Hours Noise Patrol: On Friday and Saturday nights (18:00-3:00) we operate an out-of-hours noise patrol service which deals with noise complaints. You can contact the duty team on 01727 811155.

Audible Intruder Alarms: We understand that alarms in houses, commercial premises and vehicles can cause a considerable short-term nuisance. We do have the powers in certain circumstances to enter a building or vehicle to disconnect an alarm. We will need to witness the alarm from your property. If the alarm is sounding outside of office hours, contact the out-of-hours team on 01727 811155.

High Hedges Toggle accordion

Does your case qualify as a High Hedge complaint? 

The hedge has to be:

  • Over 2 metres in height
  • Evergreen or semi-evergreen
  • Two or more trees in a continuous line

The hedge must:

  • Affect a domestic property
  • Be adversely affecting the reasonable enjoyment of the domestic property such as light, access or views

It does not cover:

  • Problems with roots including subsidence, blocked drains or the removal of water or nutrients from the soil

If you think you have a case:

The Communities and Local Government website has two leaflets which will guide you through the process: Over the Garden Hedge (PDF) and High Hedges: Complaining to the Council (PDF).

Before involving us, you need to try to resolve the issue yourself.  

  • We suggest reading our Guidance Notes for Completing the Complaint Form (PDF).  
  • We will ask for proof of written and verbal communication within the last four months as part of the application. 
  • If you do not know who owns the land which the hedge stands on you must undertake a Land Registry search.
  • We require two cheques to deal with the complaint. £80 to consider the case under the “High Hedges Complaints: Prevention and Cure (PDF)” guidance and a £300 to proceed with investigations if the case qualifies under the Act. 

If we cannot proceed we will send your £300 cheque back to you explaining why. 

For further information please visit GOV.UK

Please read our Privacy Notice (PDF) before submitting your complaint.

If you are ready to proceed please post us or email your completed High Hedge Complaint Form along with payment. 

Air Quality Publication Archive Toggle accordion