We often receive complaints regarding smoke and smells from bonfires. Smoke can ruin peoples enjoyment of their garden, prevent them from opening their windows or hanging washing out.
Smoke or smell from a bonfire might affect neighbours or aggravate any health conditions.
Alternatives to a bonfire
You should never burn household rubbish, rubber tyres or anything containing plastic, foam or paint. Find out how to dispose of things.
What the law says
There are no laws stopping you having a bonfire, or the time when you can burn things, but there are laws which might apply if the smoke causes a nuisance.
The Environmental Protection Act 1990 defines a number of Statutory Nuisances including bonfires, dust, fumes and gases emitted from premises. Where a local authority is satisfied that a statutory nuisance exists, is likely to exist or recur, it must serve a Notice on the person responsible to require abatement of the nuisance. Failure to comply with the terms of the Notice may result in prosecution.
Additionally, under the Highways (Amendment) Act 1986 anyone lighting a fire and allowing smoke to drift across a road faces a fine if it endangers traffic.
If you really must light a bonfire, try to ensure that the material you need to burn is dry. This will minimise the amount of smoke produced. You should:
- only burn dry material
- never burn household rubbish, rubber tyres or anything containing plastic, foam or paint
- never use old engine oil, meths or petrol to light the fire or encourage it
- avoid burning when the wind will carry the smoke over roads or into other people's property
- avoid burning at weekends and on bank holidays when people want to enjoy their gardens
- avoid burning when the air quality in your area is "poor" or "very poor"
- take care to keep children away from a bonfire
- remember heaps of garden refuse provide a haven for small animals such as hedgehogs. Remember to check before you light the fire
- never leave a fire unattended or leave it to smoulder - douse it with water if necessary
Report a bonfire problem
If you are experiencing issues with smoke from a bonfire, you can report it to our Environmental Health Team.
When reporting an issue please provide as much information as possible, such as an address, the time of reported burning, an indication of the items being burnt and the duration and frequency of burning.
Celebrating Bonfire Night guidance on GOV.UK
Garden bonfires advice on GOV.UK