Every year we receive a large number of complaints about bonfires.

Smoke from bonfires can stop people from:

  • sitting in their gardens
  • opening their windows
  • hanging out their washing

Bonfires can cause air pollution, worsen health conditions such as asthma, and cause a hazard if they spread, or if smoke drifts onto a road.

Garden bonfires

There are lots of ways to get rid of your household waste instead of burning it on a bonfire.

Many items can be reused or recycled, giving them a new lease of life - this also helps protect the environment:

  • compost food waste and garden waste or put it in your green bin for collection
  • use your blue bin for recyclable items such as paper, cardboard, plastic and cans
  • donate clean, unwanted clothes to your local charity shop, or ask a charity to collect good quality furniture items
  • take most types of waste to the Household Waste Recycling Centre
  • ask us to collect your unwanted bulky items
  • hire a skip to get rid of building or DIY waste such as wood, kitchen units, plasterboard

It is not against the law to have a garden bonfire, and there are no 'set times' that it's allowed - but you could be committing an offence if it causes a statutory nuisance under the Environmental Protection Act.

Commercial bonfires

It is illegal to dispose of trade waste by burning, and businesses that burn their waste could be committing several separate offences:

  • we can take action under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 where smoke from commercial bonfires is causing a statutory nuisance 
  • the Environmental Protection Act 1990 also requires that all waste on trade and business premises is stored safely and securely, and prevented from causing pollution
  • it is an offence under the Clean Air Act 1993 to give off dark or black smoke from any industrial or trade premises

Smoke that drifts onto the highway

If smoke from a bonfire drifts onto a nearby road it could disrupt traffic or cause an accident, and the person responsible could be prosecuted under the Highways Act 1980.

Complain about bonfire smoke

Find out what you can do about a bonfire smoke problem.

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We deal with smoke nuisance under the Clean Air Act 1993 and the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

Last updated on 03 November 2020