Smoke from Garden Bonfires

When Can You Have a Garden Bonfire?
Contrary to popular belief there are no bye-laws which control the lighting of bonfires, however you must ensure that any smoke and ash given off from the fire does not affect neighbouring residents.

If you rent an allotment in the Borough additional rules may apply to restrict or even prohibit the lighting of bonfires.

What's the Legal Position?
If someone has frequent garden bonfires or creates unreasonable levels of smoke from a bonfire they may be causing a nuisance under the Environmental Protection Act 1990. In practice a bonfire would have to be a persistent problem, interfering substantially with your well being, comfort or enjoyment of your property and would need to be witnessed by the Investigating Officer to constitute a nuisance. If the Council is satisfied that someone is causing a nuisance, a legal notice can be served on the person responsible requiring them to stop causing the nuisance. Failure to do so is then an offence for which they can be prosecuted.

What Can I Do About a Smoky Bonfire?
The Environmental Protection Team will encourage you to speak to your neighbour directly when problems arise to avoid placing a strain on the relationship between yourself and your neighbours. However some people may feel unable to adopt this course of action or may have already tried and been unsuccessful.

How to Have a Bonfire Without Causing a Nuisance
Bonfires have traditionally been used to mark events currently the main bonfire tradition is Bonfire Night. If you do have a bonfire to dispose of garden waste, or to celebrate Bonfire Night, inform your neighbours they are much less likely to complain.

If you are going to have a bonfire, use your common sense and consider your neighbours and follow good bonfire guidelines:
  • Only burn dry material
  • Never burn household rubbish or tyres
  • Never light a fire close to fences or buildings
  • Never leave a fire unattended
  • Never put petrol, paraffin, diesel, lighter fuel, or old oil on a fire
  • Never have a bonfire in damp or windy conditions
  • Never allow smoke from a bonfire to drift across a highway - this is an offence.

Other Ways To Get Rid of Garden Waste
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Last updated:
10/04/2013

Assigned review date:
19/06/2014

Page Section:
Resident
Neighbourhoods

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