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Garden bonfires

Please think of others before lighting any fires.

You can stockpile green waste, create a compost area or take material to the household recycling centres open to the public.

The Council collections for green waste are back in operation, please look at our Garden Waste web page for further information.

Never burn garden waste that is still green or recently cut, and never burn any other household waste.

If this advice is not followed and there is evidence of a risk to health and/or the use or enjoyment of another’s property is being affected, we may serve a formal notice on the person responsible. This may result in legal action.

To report an incident of a problem bonfire please contact us using the link on this page.

Bonfires and smoke pollution

We receive more than 150 complaints a year about smoke from garden bonfires, domestic flues and chimneys and about smoke from commercial premises.

Garden bonfires can be a particular source of annoyance to neighbours, particularly in the summer months when people wish to use their gardens. They also pollute the atmosphere, negating the benefit of smoke control programmes and present a risk to people’s health, especially those people who suffer from a respiratory condition, which will be a particular problem at present.

The Council is under a legal duty to investigate complaints of smoke and odour nuisance and formal action can be taken where a statutory nuisance is caused. The assessment of nuisance would depend upon many factors, including the amount of smoke, proximity to other residents, frequency and time of bonfires.

Is that bonfire necessary?

Householders are therefore urged to consider alternative means of disposing of their domestic waste by, for example, depositing it free-of-charge at the Civic Amenities Sites or via the Council’s bulky household waste collection service, for which there is a charge.

The Council also operates a scheme for kerbside collection of garden waste. Garden waste is collected fortnightly and biodegradable sacks have been distributed to householders within the Borough.

An alternative method of disposing of material such as garden waste is to compost it to provide a useful soil enricher for your own garden.

How to prevent smoke nuisance

If it is essential to burn material in the open air, please follow the advice below:

  • all material to be burnt should be as clean and dry as possible
  • bonfires should be sited as far as possible away from any houses
  • check the wind direction to prevent smoke from being blown into your neighbours' property or onto roads
  • never burn plastics, oil, rubber, electrical components or other chemicals as these materials produce toxic and offensive fumes
  • all bonfires should be closely supervised, since they are potentially dangerous. Do not leave a fire smouldering - put it out using soil or water

What do I do if my neighbour is regularly having bonfires and I think it is a nuisance?

If you wish to make a complaint about a neighbour's bonfire, please contact Environmental Health on 01277 312500 or contact the service online by completing our online form:

You will need to provide the following information:

  • the address of the property having bonfires
  • the times and frequency of burning
  • whether it is dark or white smoke
  • your name, address and contact telephone number

It is important that you check the address of the property carefully as the Council will write to the occupier of the property.