Domestic Bonfires

Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (EPA), a statutory nuisance includes "smoke, fumes or gases emitted from premises so as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance" and exists when a bonfire is a regularly recurring problem and interferes substantially with nearby residents' "wellbeing, comfort or enjoyment of their property". If a bonfire is emitting dark or black smoke, it is dealt with under the Clean Air Act 1993 - this includes the burning of such material in your garden. Under the Act, it is illegal to dispose of waste that is not from your property on your property - for example from a workplace or neighbour - and small tradesmen must not burn waste from site at home.

Bonfire guidelines:

  • Never leave a fire unattended.
  • Only burn dry material.
  • Never burn household waste, rubber tyres or anything containing plastic.
  • Avoid lighting a fire in unsuitable weather conditions.
  • Position the fire away from buildings, garden hedges, sheds and trees.
  • Consider whether you need to notify your neighbour(s).

If you are being affected by smoke from a bonfire, please use the contact details below to report the problem.

Please note: one-off bonfires are unlikely to constitute a nuisance.

For further advice, please see the DEFRA guidance on reducing air pollution from outdoor burning.

Burning Waste from Industrial Premises

Burning commercial or trade waste is illegal. Your may register for an exemption through the Environment Agency. You can be fined up to £20,000 under the Clean Air Act if you burn trade or commercial waste and it releases dark smoke. Complaints regarding the burning of trade waste should be directed to the Environment Agency:

The Environment Agency has also produced guidance regarding waste management.

Highways Act 1980

Under the Highways Act 1980, it is an offence for smoke from a fire to spread to the public highway and to endanger traffic. If this happens, please contact the police.


Contact: The Environmental Health team

Last updated on 13/11/2023