General consequences of nuisance in the environment

General consequences of nuisance in the environment


        This work aimed at analyzing the term nuisance, the acts that constitute nuisance its environmental consequences and also state some non nuisance activities.

        It will also highlight on the need for avoiding committing any act that will constitute nuisance.



The word nuisance is used to mean any source of inconvenience or annoyance. It is an act or omission which is an interference with, disturbance of or annoyance to a person in the exercise to enjoyment of (a) right belonging to him as a member of public which it is public nuisance (b) his ownership or occupation of the land or some easement profit or other rights used or enjoyed in connection with land when it is private nuisance. In the case of Ipadeola V. Oshowola when the court observed that nuisance is an interference or annoyance of a person in the exercise or enjoyment of a right.

    The court went further to state that when the right of a person so interfered with is the right belonging to him as a member of public, such a breach is a public nuisance and where the breach or what is disturbed is the ownership or occupation of a land, easement, profit or other rights enjoyed in connection with land. Such a breach is a private nuisance.

The following act constitute nuisance

  1. Pollution

Pollution is the process of discharging and harmful or poisonous substance whether in the air, water or land. It therefore follows that, when any substance being it gaseous substance oil/petroleum from the petroleum manufacturing companies or other substances that are dangerous to man and other animals are being discharge in any of the above mentioned areas, it has the environmental effect of affecting man thereby causing ailment or making the environment uncondusive for man. The negative effect of pollution on the environment are numerous and it is one of the act that constituted nuisance in the sense that when the air is polluted, the air becomes contaminated thereby making man’s breathing difficult and in some cases, the contaminated when breathed by man or other animals causes diseases that leds to death of man and animal thereby affecting man’s environment which is the combination of all these.

        Air pollution is invisible and as a result is the most difficult and dangerous act that affect man’s environment because whenever the ambient air is polluted there is no means of escape from it, there is no alternative even when the air smells of pollution and inflicts burning sensation in the eye and body, we have to breath even when we know the air is deadly because breathing is unavoidable for every living things.

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        Secondly, when the water is polluted, the environment is also affected because there will be no means of getting drinking water and the fishes that have water as the place of inhabitance are been killed as was in the case of Oladehim V continental textile mills Ltd.

Polluting land through any of the substances such as water, oil or material is one of the act that constituted nuisance and it has the environment defect of making the land unproductive.

        Other acts that constituted the nuisance includes;

  1. Distributing another person’s use and enjoyment of his land by whatever means being it by the use smoke, smell, electricity etc.
  2. Discharge of affluent or other waste in the neighbour’s land or river thereby destroying the fishes or other aquatic life therein.
  • Interference through the use of loud music.
  1. Interference by means of oil spillage.
  2. Unlawful blocking of public highway.
  3. Projecting fire to others which causes discomfort to the person is an act that amount also to nuisance.

Non nuisance Acts

        It is not all the acts that constitutes nuisance, for an act amount to nuisance, it must be based on the nature of that place where it was committed, the fact of that case and its circumstances.

        For instance noise that immanent from the industrial activities in an industrial area cannot always said to had constituted nuisance for it is assumed that one who after been aware that a particular place had been maped out for industrial activities went and live there had consented to bear such noise and cannot be allowed to succeed in a claim over such base on the maxim Non fit injuria.

        This is also applicable to people living in urban area where there had been likelihood of noise than it should be especially in a residential area. The law aspect those that lives in a tickly populated area to make some mutual scarifies in order to accommodate their neighbour and ensure peaceful co-existence.

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        This was stated and affirmed by ERLE in the case of Kanaway V Thomson[1] when he said:

“it appears to me that the affairs of life a dense neighborhood cannot be carried on without mutual sacrifices, the law must have regard to the principle of mutual adjustment, there must be a measure of “give and take”, live and let live”.                                          

        Again, the plaintiff will not succeed in any claim in nuisance, if the defendant can establish that it was initiated out of malice for court doesn’t hold anybody liable for an action which the plaintiff brought out of ill will or evil mind.

        This was the position of the court in the case of Balogun V Amubikanhu[2] where the decision of the trial court was quashed by the high court on the ground that, the action was necessitated by malice.


        Basically we have two types of nuisance namely public nuisance and private nuisance.


        This simply means conduct or any act that interferes with a reasonable comfort and convenience of the general public or an act that obstructed the exercise of a common rights. It should also be noted that the most proper person to take proceeding in the case of public nuisance is the A.G of either the federation or the state who does that on behalf of the public as had been stated by the court in the case of A.G V P.V.A QUARIES Co Ltd[3].


        Private nuisance is an interferes or disturbance with a person’s enjoyment of land and things on the land such as crops, animal, plantation etc.

        Private nuisance is a tort and as a result a private person maintains an action on it.

It should be noted that, the defendant can be liable even if it is a lawful act,  as long as the plaintiff can establish that, that act had caused inconvenience to him as had been the position of the court in the case of Abiola V Ijoma[4] where the defendant who kept poultry/being a lawful act which disturbed the plaintiff’s sleep at the early hour in the morning was held liable.


        There are majorly three main reasons for the existence of the law of nuisance namely;

  1. To prevent the owner and user of his property from disturbing, interfering, injury or discomforting others by his conduct while using it.
  2. To maintain the balance between the right of a person to do what he likes with his property, and their right of his neighbour or other person to be free from interference or inconveniences.
  3. To issue an injunction and award remedy in case of default.

        It therefore follows that an owner and user of his property must be very careful so as to ensure that they did not interfere with other’s enjoyment of their own land. Failure to do this will make them liable under which they will be compelled to pay damages coupled with other remedies that may be awarded by the court of the law.

The court in the case of Sedeigh Den field V O – Callaghan[5] had formulate a text to be used in determining the balance between the right of the occupier to do whatever he likes with his own property and the rights of his neighbour not to be interfered with and said that it should be “what is reasonable according to the ordinary usage of mankind living in the society.


 General consequences of nuisance in the environment cont.


        The environment constitutes the land, air and water and any dessification of any of the these three elements brings about problem in the quality of man’s life and man may feel it very difficult to survive therein.

        And environmental pollution are those activities of man that causes unrest to the natural flow of the environment from functioning the way that nature created it to be. Activities like farming industrial activities and so on. Air for instance is a very vital element of the environment which needs to be property taken of, by coordinating the system of waste disposal, regulating the noxious gas that comes out of the industries/factories and so on. Water is a means of transportation, income and food for man, that any violation if it will disrupt these benefits to man while land is the existence of life, man is born in hospitals builds built on the land, any dangerous industries discharge (oil for instance) is capable of rending the land infertile for the use of man.


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