Bonfire smoke can spoil your neighbour's enjoyment of their property, preventing them from opening their windows, sitting in their gardens or hanging out washing. Those residents who suffer from chest complaints, such as asthma, are also badly affected by smoke. It can also reduce visibility in your neighbourhood, putting motorists, cyclists and pedestrians at risk.
The Council discourages residents and businesses from burning waste (including garden cuttings) and recommends that all waste is either composted or taken to an authorised waste site.
Information for Residents:
It is not illegal to have a bonfire on your property and there are no restrictions on the times of day when it is permissible to do so. However, the smoke and ash from a bonfire can cause an actionable statutory nuisance if it significantly affects a nearby resident or business and happens on a regular basis. Care must be taken to ensure that your neighbours are not significantly affected by your actions.
- Avoid lighting a fire in unsuitable weather conditions - smoke hangs in the air on damp, still days and in the evening. If it is windy, smoke may be blown into neighbours' gardens and across roads
- Avoid having a bonfire on a warm sunny day as people may have their washing out or windows open
- Avoid burning at weekends and on bank holidays when people want to enjoy their gardens
- Avoid burning when air pollution in your area is high or very high. This information is included in weather forecasts or you can check the air pollution forecast map (uk-air.defra.gov.uk
- Never leave a fire unattended or leave it to smoulder; douse it with water to put the fire out when finished
- Only burn dry material
- Never burn household rubbish, rubber tyres or anything containing plastic, foam or paint
- Never burn treated timber for example fence panels or old sheds
- Never use engine oil, meths or petrol to light the fire or encourage it to burn
Better still, avoid having bonfires by using a compost bin for garden waste or use the council's Green Waste Scheme (brown bins) to take away garden waste.
Information for Businesses:
Fires containing trade or commercial waste are illegal unless subject to an exemption issued by the Environment Agency - details of this exemption are available on the gov.uk website:
This exemption allows you to burn plant tissue and untreated wood waste from joinery or manufacturing in the open air.
If you would like to find out more about how to dispose of trade and commercial waste correctly please contact the Environment Agency:
- Telephone: 03708 506 506 (Mon-Fri 08:00 to 18:00)
- Website: Environment Agency
It is also an offence to burn any materials on industrial or trade premises or which has come from a business, which will create dark smoke. This includes; plastics, oil, paint, rubber, mattresses, sofas, tyres, painted or coated wood, chipboard and particle board.
Smoke and ash from a commercial bonfire can also cause an actionable statutory nuisance.
Making a complaint:
The Environmental Protection Team can investigate complaints where a resident or business is being significantly affected by smoke from a bonfire. You can also let us know if a bonfire on industrial or trade premises or associated with a business practice is producing dark smoke. Councils must look into complaints about bonfires that could be a ‘statutory nuisance’.
We will normally telephone you to talk about the problem. We may then visit your home to assess the nuisance and if appropriate we can then approach the person responsible.
- What action can you take to help resolve a problem
- Report a bonfire online now or call the Contact Centre on 01322 343434
The Environmental Protection Team do not enforce waste management regulations and concerns should be referred to the Environment Agency Incident Hotline on 0800 807060 (24hrs).