There is no law against having bonfires, though it is an offence for the smoke or the smell of the smoke to cause a nuisance.
Smoke from garden bonfires in a residential area can seriously affect other residents. It can also contribute to local air pollution levels and in some locations, reduce visibility on nearby roads.
Complain about a neighbour’s bonfire
A single bonfire is unlikely to be a nuisance even though it may cause annoyance to one or more neighbours. To be a nuisance, there has to be evidence about the frequency of the bonfires, their duration, the locality and how the bonfire directly affects the complainant's enjoyment of their land.
If your neighbours are causing a nuisance, speak to them about it calmly. If that doesn't work you can report it to us.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak the Environmental Health service has had to reduce it’s services to be able to react to the current situation. The reduction in service will mean that complaints/request for service will be triaged and only those we consider to be a public health risk will be actioned.
It is best not to burn bonfires if possible. You can get rid of household or garden waste by composting or recycling it. If there is no alternative to having a bonfire, you should light it when weather conditions are suitable.
If a bonfire is the best option for disposing of garden waste, follow these guidelines and the chances are you won't annoy your neighbours or cause serious nuisance:
- Warn your neighbours - they are much less likely to complain
- Only burn dry material
- Never burn household rubbish, rubber tyres or anything containing plastic, foam or paint
- Never use old engine oil, methylated spirits or petrol to light the fire or encourage it
- Avoid lighting a fire in unsuitable weather conditions - smoke hangs in the air on damp, still days and in the evening. If it is windy, smoke may be blown into neighbour’s gardens and across roads
- Avoid burning when air pollution in your area is high or very high.
- Do not allow the smoke to drift across the road and become a danger to traffic. You may be fined for this.