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We receive many complaints about bonfires.  Bonfire smoke can be very irritating and even harmful, particularly to people with breathing problems. Having a bonfire should always be a last resort.

Please consider these alternatives

The law

Bonfires are not specifically prohibited in law, but they may cause a statutory nuisance under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

A statutory nuisance may occur if smoke interferes unreasonably with the ordinary use or enjoyment of another person’s property.    

It is also an offence to burn any waste generated as a result of a commercial activity, or any waste that will cause dark or black smoke.  If you need to report an incident relating to the burning of commercial or agricultural waste you can contact the Environment Agency 0800 807060.

Contact the Police if smoke from a bonfire near a road is causing a traffic hazard.

How do I have a bonfire without causing a nuisance?

If you cannot avoid having a bonfire and to reduce the likelihood of causing a nuisance, please consider the following:

  • How often you burn – The more often you have a bonfire, the more likely it is that your neighbours will complain
  • The size of the fire – it must be small enough to be controllable and hot enough to burn with minimal smoke
  • Location – as far away from neighbours as possible
  • Weather – ideally no wind or a light breeze, blowing away from nearby houses
  • Suitable materials – Only burn dry material as this will burn quickly and give off a minimal amount of smoke and smell.  You may be able to burn dry garden waste, clean wood, paper or card.  Never burn oil, green garden waste, animal bedding, rubber, plastic, foam or paint, as these can produce dark smoke, which is potentially toxic and environmentally unacceptable

We also suggest:

  • Supervise - do not leave a bonfire unattended
  • Water - have water available to put out the fire

If you would like to make a complaint please speak to the owner of the bonfire first.   If this fails please report a problem with smoke.