There are no specific laws against having bonfires. However if a statutory nuisance is being caused by bonfires, then legal action to prevent such a nuisance can be taken under section 80 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
For a bonfire to be classed as a nuisance it must be a regular problem and interfere substantially with your well being, comfort or enjoyment of your property.
Smoke and smell from a bonfire can upset neighbours, ruin enjoyment of the garden, prevent people opening their windows or hanging out their washing. Smoke from a bonfire can also cause a danger if it reduces visibility on nearby roads.
Fires can spread quickly damaging plants, trees, fencing and buildings. Bottles and cans can explode when they are burnt. Piles of garden waste can also be used as a shelter by wildlife or pets, so please remember to check before lighting a bonfire.
The best way of disposing of waste, including garden rubbish, is to compost it or take it to your nearest Household Waste Recycling Centre. If you choose to dispose of it by burning instead, please follow these guidelines:
- Only burn dry material
- Never burn household rubbish, rubber tyres, or anything containing plastic, foam or paint
- Never use old engine oil, methylated spirits or petrol to light the fire or to encourage it
- Avoid lighting a fire in unsuitable weather conditions - smoke hangs in the air on damp, still days and in the evening. If it is windy, smoke may be blown into neighbours gardens and across roads
- Avoid burning at weekends and on bank holidays when people want to enjoy their gardens
- Avoid burning when air pollution in your area is high or very high
- Never leave a fire unattended or leave it to smoulder - douse it with water if necessary
It is an offence to cause or permit the emission of dark smoke from industrial or trade premises under the Clean Air Act 1993.