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

Report a smoke nuisance using our online form []

Street enforcement

Open 9am - 5pm Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays). Emergency out of hours (between 6pm-3am) 024 7683 2222

Telephone: 024 7683 1853 [tel:02476831853]

Alternatives to garden bonfires

As recycling facilities improve, bonfires are becoming less popular. Environmental Protection do not consider that burning waste is an acceptable means of disposal and urge householders in Coventry to consider other ways of getting rid of waste.

As well as potentially causing a nuisance, bonfires can produce 'greenhouse' gases such as carbon dioxide which add to global warming. Bonfires can also produce other poisonous gases and fine particles which can affect human health. In particular, this will affect those individuals with heart and respiratory diseases such as asthma and bronchitis.

Why not 'do your bit' for the environment and help reduce air pollution in Coventry by disposing of your garden waste in a more environmentally friendly manner?

You should consider:

  • Shredding or chopping the material with a spade and using it as a garden mulch or 'green' compost which can be dug straight into the garden
  • Use our fortnightly green waste kerbside collection and your waste will be composted
  • Make your own compost from your garden waste to improve your soil and save money.

For hints and tips on home composting see our composting advice [/composting] or Garden Organic [] based at Ryton Organic Gardens, near Coventry.

Or, take your waste to the recycling and disposal centre on London Road [/tip] or arrange for a special bulky waste collection [/bulkywaste].

Street enforcement

Open 9am - 5pm Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays). Emergency out of hours (between 6pm-3am) 024 7683 2222

Telephone: 024 7683 1853 [tel:02476831853]

Commercial and industrial bonfires

It is illegal to dispose of trade waste by burning and any business doing so could be committing three separate offences. Trade waste is any waste that is generated by commercial and business premises.

Smoke nuisance and black smoke

We can take action under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 where smoke from bonfires is causing a statutory nuisance. For commercial premises, prosecution in a magistrates' court could mean an unlimited fine and/or imprisonment.

It is also an offence under the Clean Air Act 1993 [] to give off dark or black smoke from any industrial or trade premises. Prosecution can be taken on a first offence and lead to a fine of up to £20,000.

Duty of care

If you own or operate a business you must make sure you are fulfilling your 'Duty of Care' that you are disposing of your waste in the correct manner. By law, trade waste must be collected by a registered waste carrier. The maximum fine for failing to do this is £5,000.

Illegal waste disposal

It is also an offence to store or dispose of (including burning) trade waste without a waste management licence or in a manner likely to cause pollution of the environment or harm to human health. This type of offence is dealt with by the Environment Agency and if you suspect any business is burning or disposing of waste illegally please contact the Environment Agency's Incident Hotline [] on 0800 807 060.

Trade waste collections

The Council offers a trade waste service [/info/10076/commercial_waste-information_and_advice/1079/waste_solutions] (other trade waste services are available). For waste management licences and requirements please see the Environment Agency [] website or contact them on 08708 506 506.

How to complain

To make a complaint about a commercial bonfire please contact us.

Street enforcement

Open 9am - 5pm Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays). Emergency out of hours (between 6pm-3am) 024 7683 2222

Telephone: 024 7683 1853 [tel:02476831853]