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Environmental Issues

We receive many complaints about garden bonfires. Bonfires can ruin peoples’ enjoyment of their garden and prevent them from opening their windows or hanging out washing.

Although there are no laws against having a bonfire, there are laws about the nuisance they can cause. See Nuisance smoke: how councils deal with complaints for more information.

Instead of having a bonfire to eliminate garden waste, why not have it collected by the council or take it to your local tip?

Defra has published best practice guidance on outdoor burning: Reducing air pollution from outdoor burning. The aim of this guidance is to inform members of the public of the air quality impact of outdoor burning and help to reduce emissions from it. It also supports reducing the risk of wildfires.

If you have a bonfire…


  • think about your neighbours and position the bonfire away from other properties

  • remember that smoke hangs in the air on damp, windless days and in the evening around sunset

  • check garden waste for small animals such as hedgehogs

  • keep the bonfire as small as possible

  • burn only dry garden waste

  • put out the bonfire as soon as possible to avoid smouldering.


  • burn household rubbish, tyres, plastic, treated wood or paint

  • light bonfires when your neighbours have washing out or at times when people most want to enjoy their gardens, such as weekends and bank holidays

  • light bonfires when the wind may cause the smoke to travel into your neighbours' gardens or properties or across roads

  • use oil, methylated spirit or petrol to light a bonfire

  • leave a bonfire unattended.

How do I complain about a bonfire?

We recommend that you first politely discuss any issues with the person having the bonfire as they may not realise it is causing a problem. Explain that the smoke is disturbing you and ask them to put out the fire or move it to a different location.

If you cannot resolve the problem, you can report it to us and an officer will investigate your complaint.