Having a bonfire can produce smoke especially if the material is damp and smoulders. Bonfire emissions may have a direct effect on residents' health, particularly for those suffering from asthma, lung problems or heart conditions.
Smoke prevents neighbours from enjoying their gardens, opening windows or hanging out washing. It may also cause a hazard to motorists using nearby roads as a result of reduced visibility.
There are popular misconceptions that there are byelaws to prevent bonfires or that bonfires can only be lit after 6pm, both of these statements are untrue. The law does not stop you having a bonfire, but we can take action against you under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 if you cause a statutory nuisance from smoke.
Reporting a bonfire nuisance
If you are bothered by smoke, start by approaching your neighbour and explain the problem. They may not be aware of the distress they are causing and it will hopefully make them more considerate in the future.
If bonfires are regular or having a significant impact you can contact Environmental Health. You will be asked to record instances of when smoke is unreasonably affecting you. You will need to be sure of the location of the bonfire for each instance.
If the smoke from a bonfire is causing, or likely to cause, a statutory nuisance under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, then a notice can be served on the person responsible. If the requirements of the notice are ignored, then the person responsible for the bonfire could be prosecuted in the Magistrates' Court and fined up to £5,000.
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