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Bonfires and Smoke Nuisance

Every year the Environmental Protection Team receive a large number of complaints about bonfires causing a repeated nuisance. Such nuisances need never arise if due consideration is shown to our neighbours.

The Environmental Protection Act 1990 allows the Local Authority to take persistent offenders to court should their bonfires cause a nuisance to neighbours (i.e. have an unreasonable effect on their enjoyment of their home or garden).

Moreover a bonfire on trade premises which causes dark smoke may be causing an offence regardless of whether anybody else is affected (section 2, 1993 Clean Air Act). The fines could be up to £20,000 for each offence. If you would like to complain to us it is likely that we will ask you to keep a diary of events. This will assist officers investigating your complaint.

Think! Do you really need to burn?  Alternatives to Bonfires 

What to Do if You Are Bothered by a Neighbours Bonfire?

First of all tell them about it. In three quarters of cases one neighbour does not know that they are causing problems for another. Often they are too intent on keeping the fire going to notice the effect it is having!

If you are really annoyed then calm down before approaching your neighbour or writing them a letter. You will be much better able to explain your grievance in a reasonable way and so you are much more likely to get a positive response. Try using our advice leaflet on Bonfire and Smoke Nuisance.

If this doesn't work then contact us and we will try to help using our powers under the Environmental Protection Act. We will write to your neighbour explaining the law and steps they can take to avoid needing to burn. We will also ask you to keep a diary which will record dates and times of your neighbours fires and how they are affecting you - this is crucial information as it will allow us to establish if the circumstances are sufficiently serious to possibly be a statutory nuisance. It is also useful to get photographs or video footage of how smoke or ash is affecting you and your property.

Garden Bonfire - Smoke Nuisance Fact Sheet (PDF Document, 0.21 Mb)

For further information about statutory nuisances or to make a complaint contact us on 01509 634636 or email us at

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