Archive Website of the UK government

Please note that this website has a UK government accesskeys system.

Archive brought to you by Cross Stitch UK

Main menu

Wednesday, 3 October 2023

Reporting polluted land, air and water

If you have concerns about polluted land, air or water in your local area, you should contact your local authority or the Environment Agency. Find out how to do this and what you can do if you're not happy with the response you receive.

What is a pollutant?

A pollutant is any substance that is introduced to land, air or water that should not normally be present. This could be chemicals from landfills that have leaked into the soil or water, or gases from old gasworks or factories.

When to contact your local council

Environmental health

Local environmental health is dealt with by councils

Smaller, less dangerous pollution incidents are generally dealt with by local councils. You should contact them about incidents like:

  • fly-tipping of household rubbish or small amounts of commercial waste
  • burning domestic or garden waste
  • smoke emissions from polluting vehicles

Your council also keeps a list of contaminated land. It inspects and assesses this land and takes any necessary ‘clean-up’ action.

Contact your local council and find out more using the links below.

When to contact the Environment Agency

Report pollution incidents to the Environment Agency's hotline:

0800 80 70 60

The Environment Agency deals with most bigger, more serious pollution incidents like:

  • damage or danger to the natural environment
  • pollution to water or land
  • fish in distress or dead fish
  • illegal dumping of hazardous waste or large amounts of industrial waste
  • incidents at waste sites they regulate, like landfill sites

If you encounter an incident like this, phone the incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60 (this is a freephone, 24-hour service).

After reporting a pollution incident

When you report a pollution incident to the Environment Agency’s incident hotline, your call will be logged by the incidents team and then investigated. You will receive an incident reference number, which you can use if you want to check how the case is progressing.

Complaining about action on pollution incidents

If you’re not happy with the action taken by your local council or the Environment Agency, you can make a complaint. In the first instance, this should be directly to whichever of these organisations you are in contact with.

Taking things further

If you aren’t satisfied with the response you receive from the council, you can make a complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman. The link below, ‘Make a complaint against your council’, lets you do this. You should have complained directly to your council before taking this step.

If you aren’t satisfied with the Environment Agency’s response, you need to follow the Environment Agency's complaints process. See the link below for more about the Environment Agency's complaints process.

Access keys