There is no law restricting times when you can have a domestic garden bonfire, but it is important to think about your neighbours and other local residents.
The Council can take action where smoke from bonfires is causing a statutory nuisance.
Just because you can see a garden bonfire or smell smoke does not make it a nuisance - to be a nuisance it must be unreasonably affecting your use or enjoyment of your property. Issues that can play a part in deciding whether it is a nuisance include the size of the fire, the materials being burnt, the weather and the smell.
If the Council is satisfied there is a nuisance, then a legal notice will be served to prevent any further nuisances. If nuisances continue and are proved beyond all reasonable doubt then the person responsible may be prosecuted in a Magistrates' Court and fined up to £5,000.
Guidelines for garden bonfires
If you wish to have a garden bonfire you are advised to follow the guidance below:
- Only burn dry garden material - wet material produces more smoke and steam
- Never burn domestic rubbish, furniture, painted wood, tyres or plastics
- Never add a fuel such as diesel, oil or petrol
- Make sure having a bonfire will not affect neighbours (check they have windows closed and do not have any washing out to dry)
- Never have bonfires on damp days or when there is little or no wind as smoke will linger in the air for long periods of time
- Never have bonfires at weekends or on bank holidays when people are more likely to be enjoying their gardens - be considerate!
- Do not allow bonfire smoke to blow over a road - this is an offence under the Highways Act 1980.
- If your neighbours do complain, rake off any unburnt material if safe to do so and smother the fire with soil or sand. Dousing with water can make the problem worse due to the amount of steam that is produced
- Avoid burning when air pollution in your area is high or very high. This information is included in weather forecasts or on the UK Air Quality Archive website.
How to complain
To make a complaint report a smoke nuisance using our online form.