There are no specific laws which prohibit bonfires or place time restrictions on them. However, if the smoke (or ash etc) affects your property and stops you doing something, for example gardening or hanging out washing, then we may be able to help. Find information about garden bonfires (external link)
Report a bonfire problem
- If you are a private householder, please contact Environmental Health on 01695 577177.
- If you are a council tenant, you need to contact your Housing Officer at the Estate Management and Tenant Participation Team on 01695 577177.
We will attempt to respond to any complaints concerning bonfires that are burning at that time within one working day - subject to officer availability.
Precautions to take if you are having a bonfire
- Inform your neighbours
- Never burn rubber, synthetic material or other chemicals as these can produce toxic and damaging fumes.
- Site the bonfire carefully, ensuring that it is as far as possible from any fences or buildings, and that the wind direction will not blow smoke into neighbouring premises.
- Never light a bonfire when neighbours have laundry drying.
- Ensure the bonfire is supervised at all times and that it is properly extinguished.
- At no time should the smoke blow onto the road. This is an offence under the Highways Act.
Alternatives to burning
There is no need to burn waste because:
- General household waste can be deposited in either your bin or your recycling receptacles. Please see the Refuse and Recycling section for more information.
- Larger items (e.g. old beds, wardrobes, fridges etc.) can be collected by the Council. You can arrange a bulky item collection
- Garden cuttings may be put in green bins.
- Any quantity of domestic rubbish or garden waste can be taken to the Household Waste Recycling Centres
- A wide variety of materials can be recycled. Please see the Recycling section for more information.
Legal action against bonfires
Bonfires are illegal if they cause a nuisance to others i.e. if the smoke affects other people. The Environmental Protection Act 1990 makes smoke pollution an offence. An owner, occupier or person responsible for the nuisance can be served with a smoke abatement notice preventing further nuisance.
The Clean Air Act 1993 makes emissions of dark or black smoke from the burning of trade waste an offence for which the Council can take legal proceedings.
Individuals can initiate legal action against under section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. For this to succeed you will have to prove your case in Court and may wish to instruct a Solicitor.