Bonfires - advice and the law

Advice if you're having a bonfire

Bonfires are the subject of many complaints to councils. Smoke can prevent your neighbours enjoying their garden, opening windows or hanging washing out and reduces visibility in the neighbourhood and on roads. Although there are no set times when you can or can't have a bonfire, we would encourage residents to adopt a neighbourly approach and follow our guidelines for having a safe bonfire.

Guidelines for safe bonfires

  • 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 having a bonfire on a warm sunny day as people may have their washing out or windows open
  • 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. This information is included in weather forecasts or you can check the air pollution forecast map (
  • Never leave a fire unattended or leave it to smoulder; douse it with water if necessary
  • Only burn dry material
  • Never burn household rubbish, rubber tyres or anything containing plastic, foam or paint
  • Never use old engine oil, meths or petrol to light the fire or encourage it

Better still, avoid having bonfires by using a compost bin for garden waste or use the council's Green Waste Scheme (brown bins) to take away garden waste. More information about garden waste 


Allotments near homes can cause particular problems, if plot holders persistently burn waste. If you have an allotment, you may need to check with the relevant parish council or the landowner.


Barbecues can also cause a smoke nuisance, especially if you use lighter fuel. Please be considerate. If you are having a barbecue tell your neighbours; check with them - they may wish to close their windows or bring their washing in.

 Last updated:‎ ‎04‎/‎07‎/‎2023‎ ‎15‎:‎59‎