Domestic Bonfires can cause substantial problems to neighbours.
We have produced the following information to inform you and
suggestions of action you can take to minimise and avoid causing a
Bonfires have traditionally been a way
of disposing of waste. Recently, this method of getting rid of
waste is seen as unacceptable by many people. It causes pollution
and can be a nuisance to people living nearby.
There are a number of problems caused
by burning waste
Air Pollution –
Burning waste produces smoke and harmful pollutants
Health Effects – The
smoke has damaging health effects, particularly for vulnerable
Annoyance – The
Council receives hundreds of complaints every year from residents
affected by other peoples’ bonfires.
Bonfires can spread to fences and trees. Exploding cans are a
hazard to those standing nearby.
Put it in your garden waste
The Council collects your garden waste
using the green wheeled bin provided and this is taken to a local
composting facility. If you have a large garden, additional green
waste bins can be provided for a small one-off charge of
Contact: 01902 696000
Take it down to your local
Household Waste Recycling
HWRC's are run by Staffordshire County
Council. Further information can be found by clicking this
More details can also be found in
our leaflet below.
South Staffordshire Residents can
obtain a subsidised home compost bin. A home composter will enable
you to compost uncooked vegetable and fruit waste as well as garden
refuse, and it provides you with a free source of compost for your
Further advice on home composting bins
is available here.
Initially, we recommend that you
approach the person having the bonfire. They often don’t realise
the problems they are causing. You may feel awkward about this,
fearing a strong reaction, but people who have had bonfires often
ask us why the complainant didn’t pop round and let them know there
was a problem.
You could let them have a copy of
this information (you can download the leaflet below). If this
fails, contact the Council to report the problem. An officer will
investigate your complaint and contact the
person having the fire to give advice
on preventing further problems. We will not tell them who has
But I like
It is recognised that there are
occasions where there is no alternative but to burn garden waste
where it cannot be composted, e.g. very woody and/or diseased
material. It is also recognised that the period around November 5th
(Bonfire Night) is a traditional event where fires are lit. These
are an accepted tradition, but you should still follow good
practice to minimise the impact of the fire.
If you do intend to have a bonfire, it
is advisable to warn your neighbours – it is much less likely to
result in a complaint – and follow our good bonfire guidelines.
Only burn dry material – freshly cut
material causes more smoke.
Never burn household rubbish, rubber,
plastic, foam (including furniture) or paint.
Avoid lighting in unsuitable weather
conditions. These include:
- Damp, still days
- Very windy days
- During the night, or within an hour
of sunrise or sunset (wind speeds typically drop during these
periods, reducing the dispersion of any smoke)
- If the wind direction is going to
blow it towards neighbours property.
Keep your fire away from trees, fences
Never use oil, petrol or other
flammable material to
light a fire.
Don’t set light to a large amount of
waste all at once. It is better to have a small fire, make sure it
is burning well, and then add small amounts of material at a time.
This will minimise the amount of smoke.
Never leave a fire unattended, or
leave it to smoulder overnight - Make sure it is completely
Locate the bonfire away from houses to minimise the possibility
of smoke affecting neighbours. Modern estates tend to have smaller
gardens and your neighbours’ houses are much nearer than for older
properties. The possibility of causing a nuisance is increased as a
result. The advice in this situation is not to have a bonfire, in
What are the rules on having
There are no specific byelaws relating
to when you can have a bonfire. The Council deals with most bonfire
problems under the duty set out in the Environmental Protection Act
1990. This makes it an offence to cause a nuisance and this
includes “smoke, fumes or gases emitted from a premises so as to be
prejudicial to health or a nuisance”.
In practice fires would have to be
frequent, persistent and substantially interfere with neighbours
well-being, comfort or enjoyment of their property before formal
action can be taken. Where trade or business waste is burnt and
“dark smoke” is emitted, this is an offence under the Clean Air Act
1993. In addition, under Section 34 of the Environmental Protection
Act 1990 it is illegal to dispose of waste that is not from your
property, for example, small tradesmen must not burn waste from
site at their home.
Finally, anyone lighting a fire and
allowing smoke to drift across a road and endanger traffic faces a
fine under the Highways Act 1980. The Police deal with these
modern lifestyle is to use our gardens as an outdoor room, cooking
on barbeques and using heaters (such as Chimineas) to extend the
amount of time we spend in the garden. Smoke and fumes from these
appliances can be the cause of annoyance to your neighbours. Use
the same guidelines as above to minimise the impact of their use on
your neighbours. In particular, avoid using them adjacent to areas
where your neighbours are sitting out in their garden.
Residents can contact Environmental
Protection Services at the following address:
Environmental Protection Services
South Staffordshire Council
Please contact a member of staff for specific enquiries. The
links below may provide information on general enquiries.
To contact a member of staff by telephone or email, please see
the details below. Alternatively, complete the online Pollution
Control Form (see link below).
There are no associated costs for requesting information or
making a complaint concerning air pollution.
We have adopted a set of standards for the provision of this
service. You can find out more about these service standards by
following the link below.
Document: Garden Bonfire Leaflet
Environmental Protection - Air Quality
Telephone: (01902) 696000
Fax: (01902) 696222