Most air quality complaints and enquiries that Waikato Regional Council receive are about odours. Find out where they come from, why odours affect people differently and why odours are difficult to manage. Find out what you can do if you have concerns about odour.
On this page: Different reactions to the same odour, Odour sources, Managing odour, Find out more
Odours are caused by mixtures of chemicals that stimulate our sense of smell. Unpleasant, strong, long-lasting odours can be a real nuisance, reducing our enjoyment of life.
The best way of assessing odour is via the human nose. But everyone reacts to odours differently. One person may object strongly to an odour while another is not bothered by it. Some odours are pleasant, for example the smell of freshly mown grass, while others are considered highly offensive.
How much an individual reacts to odours can depend on the:
Sensitivity to odour can also vary according to a person’s:
Cultural issues may mean that certain types of odour are not acceptable, for example, from a crematorium or sewage treatment plant.
Previous exposure to a certain odour means that some people may have become de-sensitised to it over time and no longer find it offensive. For example, people who have grown up in a town where a particular industry is the main employer, may generally accept odour emissions as part of life.
There are many sources of odour in the Waikato region including:
Odour is complicated to manage because:
Waikato Regional Council encourages people concerned about odour to meet with those creating the odours to talk about their complaint. Most situations can be resolved this way. You’ll find that most people are reasonable, and willing to discuss the problem.
Remember that those causing the odour:
The Waikato Regional Council responds to concerns about odour. While we encourage people concerned about odour to meet with those causing the odour, sometimes a solution cannot be agreed upon. The Waikato Regional Council then makes a preliminary assessment of the problem. This involves a site investigation to measure the:
If Waikato Regional Council determines a problem exists, we’ll encourage the nuisance emitter to control their odour discharges. If solutions cannot be found where both parties are happy, there will inevitably be winners and losers. In past cases determined by Waikato Regional Council, some have gone in favour of the complainant, while others were in favour of the emitter.
Following the preliminary assessment more information may be needed. We may:
Find out about Waikato Regional Council's guidelines for assessing acceptable levels of odour for resource consent applications.