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Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, we have the power to serve Abatement Notices on persons who allow odour, dust or smoke from bonfires and chimneys to cause a statutory nuisance.

To constitute a statutory nuisance, smoke, odour or dust would need to drift across someone's home on a regular basis. When considering a statutory nuisance, we need to establish how often the alleged nuisance occurs, ie once a week or once a year, and how long the alleged nuisance occurs for, whether it lasts a few minutes or several hours.

If we have evidence that the smoke, odour or dust is a statutory nuisance then an Abatement Notice will be served on the person causing the nuisance. If the statutory nuisance continues, then the alleged offender can be prosecuted and may be fined up to £5,000 upon conviction for a domestic dwelling and up to £20,000 for commercial premises.

How to prevent bonfire smoke nuisance


  • Let your nearest neighbours know before you light your bonfire.
  • Burn material in small amounts.
  • Consider using an incinerator rather than an open bonfire.
  • Choose the location of your bonfire carefully and have a spade, fork or hose pipe ready in case you need to extinguish the bonfire quickly.
  • Be aware that other residents may also have regular bonfires. Although you may only have one a month, if each resident did this, it could result in a bonfire every day, which could be unreasonable. Therefore it's important to communicate with your neighbours.
  • Use alternative methods; recycle items, use the local household waste recycling centres.
  • Consider shredding instead of burning as a suitable safeguard against identity fraud.
  • Only have a bonfire as a last resort; reuse, recycle, and then dispose of.


  • Do not burn damp grass cuttings or other damp garden waste as this will produce thick smoke.
  • Do not burn oily rags, rubber, plastics, foam, car tyres etc as these will give rise to black toxic smoke.
  • Do not light a bonfire when neighbours have hung out their washing or are enjoying their gardens. Be considerate.
  • Do not light a bonfire if the wind is blowing in the direction of your nearest neighbour. Only light a bonfire if the wind is blowing away from your neighbours.
  • Do not leave a bonfire unattended. Never leave a bonfire once it is alight.
  • Do not start a bonfire one hour before dusk.
  • Do not allow your bonfire to smoulder for long periods of time, especially overnight. Ensure that you rake over the ashes to ensure the bonfire is extinguished.

What you can do

Or contact us using the details below:

Environmental Health

When making your complaint you must include:

  • Your name, address and if possible a contact telephone number
  • The address complained of and the type of nuisance
  • When and for how long the problem normally occurs and
  • The way the nuisance affects you.

What we will do

Your complaint will be looked at and we'll let you know how we will deal with it. You must remember that your complaint will not be resolved overnight, investigations can take several weeks.

Please note: Your name and address will NOT be disclosed to the person complained of, however, occasionally the person may guess who has complained or may approach you to ask if you have made a complaint. Also if we decide to take legal action, you may be asked to appear in Court as a witness.