Bonfires and Smoke

Bonfires can cause nuisance to neighbours from smoke and smells and are not an environmentally friendly way of getting rid of rubbish.

Bonfire facts

  • There are no laws which prohibits you from having a bonfire from a domestic property.

  • Smoke from bonfires can contain potentially harmful gases and particles which can cause damaging health effects.

  • Smoke can prevent your neighbours from enjoying their gardens, opening windows or hanging washing out, and reduces visibility to local areas and on roads.

Bonfires from a domestic premises 

Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, the council has the power to take action when smoke from bonfires is causing a statutory nuisance to neighbouring properties.

Alternatives to bonfires:

If you chose to have a bonfire then;

  • Piles of garden waste are often used as a refuge by animals, so check before you start
  • Burn only dry wood to minimise the quantity of smoke produced
  • Do not choose a damp day when smoke hangs in the air for long periods
  • Do not choose very windy days when smoke may be carried over roads and neighbouring properties
  • Do not leave your fire unattended

What can you do if you are disturbed by domestic bonfire smoke?

If a bonfire is causing you a nuisance, in first instance approach the person causing it and politely make them aware. Often people are not aware that they are causing a nuisance. If the problem continues, contact the Customer Service Centre on 01923 776611 or by email via

Burning from business, trade or construction sites

The burning of commercial or trade waste is not permitted on any site, without permission from the Environmental Agency. Businesses have a legal obligation to dispose of waste in a proper manner and may be prosecuted for failing to do so. To report businesses that are using bonfires to dispose of waste please contact the Customer Service Centre on 01923 776611 or by email via

Bonfires with smoke affecting the road

Under the Highways Act 1980, anyone lighting a fire and allowing smoke to drift across a road faces a fine if it endangers traffic. Contact the police via their non-emergency telephone number 101.

 What's wrong with a good old fashioned bonfire? (pdf)

What's the legal position? (pdf)


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