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Guidance on bonfires

If you are planning a bonfire

If you have considered all other methods of disposal and have decided that having a bonfire is the best way to get rid of your garden waste, the first thing you should do is inform your neighbours.

Simple information such as how much material you have to burn and how long the fire might last for can go a long way to keeping good relations with your neighbours. Also be sure to tell them that if the smoke is bothering them then they should come and speak to you first and let you know so that you can do something about it. Most importantly, if they do come to you with a problem - do something about it!

Do not light the bonfire if conditions are unfavourable - for example, if smoke is likely to blow onto your neighbours home or garden.

Local weather conditions will affect the impact the smoke has on your neighbours. Still conditions will prevent the smoke from dispersing while windy conditions will blow smoke into neighbouring properties and across roads causing annoyance and possibly danger.

Bonfires can be a fire hazard; fire can spread to fences or buildings and scorch trees and plants. Sealed cans or bottles in a fire may explode.

Bonfire guidelines

To reduce the possibility of causing a nuisance to your neighbours:

  • do not have a fire if the wind is variable or if it is blowing directly towards neighbouring properties
  • burn dry material only
  • never burn household rubbish, rubber tyres, or anything containing plastic, foam or paint
  • never use old engine oil, methylated spirits or petrol to light a fire or to keep it going o Avoid lighting a fire in unsuitable weather conditions - smoke lingers on still days and if it is windy, smoke may be blown into neighbouring properties or across roads
  • avoid burning at weekends and on bank holidays when people want to enjoy their homes and gardens
  • avoid burning when the air quality in your area is 'poor' or 'very poor'. (You can check this by phoning 0800 556677, or by checking at Defra
  • never leave a fire unattended or leave it to smoulder - douse it with water if necessary and make sure it is out and will not continue to smoke once you have left it
  • allow any fire to burn down as much as possible before extinguishing it. Established fires tend to give off less smoke and throwing water over a large fire will eject ash into the air, increasing the chances of annoying your neighbour.
Last modified on 05 December 2023

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