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How to report a pollution incident

As you may have seen on social media, we've been busy lately tackling a couple of recurring air quality issues in the L20 area of Bootle in Linacre Ward.

We believe we're making real progress, so we want to share what we've learned so far and encourage everyone to take action on the quality the air we breathe in our borough.

The nature and source of the pollution being experienced determines what course of action we need to take, but gathering the right information is critical in both cases, so the incident can be fully investigated.

What information is needed?

When making a report, we need to follow these simple steps to document the incident. It looks like a lot, but it only takes a few minutes:

  1. Clearly describe the problem. E.g. smoke from fire is making me cough, dust is making my eyes itch, a smell is causing a headache etc

  2. Note the exact date & time of the incident

  3. Provide the exact location where the issue is being experienced - this could be at home, at work, or out and about. Use the what3words app to pinpoint the exact spot, if possible

  4. Offer information on the believed source of the pollution - this could be a nearby processing plant, a building site, an energy plant etc. Again, we need to provide an address if possible, as we will be asked for this. If we don't know, we should ask them to look into companies likely to be engaging in a suitable activity in the vicinity

  5. Add any further details relevant to the report. This could be listing the wider impacts we believe it is having on our physical and/or mental health and the range of symptoms we are suffering, over and above the description. Could it be related to a doctor's diagnosis of asthma, COPD, chronic migraines etc?

When to report?

  1. It's really important to report incidents at the time they are happening. Old reports are impossible to substantiate.

  2. Report only if it is affecting you, not on behalf of others

Who to report to?

Incidents need to be reported either to Sefton Council's Environmental Health department, or the Environment Agency. Some guidance is below, but we needn't worry if we choose the wrong one - they will tell us whether we're dealing with the correct authority when reporting.

Reporting an incident to Sefton Council

If the complaint relates to general environmental issues within the Sefton Boundary including odour, smoke, noise, dust etc, these need to be registered with Sefton Council's Contact centre on 0345 140 0845.

More details on what is and isn't under the Council's remit can be found here.

Officers will then consider and investigate the concerns. They may ask for more information before deciding whether or not to take action, and/or advise if it is a matter for the Environment Agency.

Reporting an issue to the Environment Agency

Here in South Sefton, as a general rule, we are finding that pollution emanating from activities within the Port of Liverpool's boundary are likely to be regulated by the Environment Agency - a government body responsible for the heavy industries we see in this location: things like waste processing, scrap metal processing, energy production.

There are 2 ways of reporting an incident to the Environment Agency.

Either call their hotline on 0800 80 70 60, or email

In both cases, we will need to provide the information covered above.

Make sure you get a reference number so you have a record of your report.

What if it keeps happening?

The simple answer is... keep reporting! And, if it's affecting others in your area, encourage them to do the same.

The higher the number of reports received, the more likely they are to act.

If this means doing so on a daily basis, that's what we need to do unless/until the cause of the issue is established and action is taken.

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