Reporting Bonfires.

Garden Bonfires

These days it is not necessary to burn waste. You will find that nearby is a Nottinghamshire County Council local amenity site, where most waste items can be recycled or composted.

What laws are there to control bonfires?

Whilst garden bonfires may have been a traditional method of disposing of garden wastes, they produce smoke, which contains carbon monoxide, and toxic fumes and such pollutants harm the quality of the air. Most of us have neighbours living close by who may not appreciate the effects of a bonfire. Smoke can ruin a neighbour's enjoyment of their garden, prevent windows being opened and prevent them hanging out their washing, therefore garden bonfires are a common cause of complaint. Smoke can cause health problems for neighbours who may be asthmatic, have bronchitis or heart conditions.  Children can also be badly affected.  Generally bonfires are discouraged and advice on alternative methods of waste disposal are detailed below.  Trade waste must never be burnt on site and is an offence under the Environmental Protection act 1990, regardless of whether it is causing a statutory nuisance.

The legislation used to control bonfires is the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Under this legislation, a garden bonfire may be considered to be a 'Statutory Nuisance'.

People can have a bonfire at any time of the day providing it does not cause a Statutory Nuisance. In general, for the smoke to be considered a Statutory Nuisance it must affect other premises to such an extent that normal use of those premises is not possible. Therefore, a bonfire would, generally, have to be a persistent problem interfering substantially with your well being, comfort and enjoyment of your property.

Even if the bonfire is not a stator nuisance, it can be anti-social and prevent neighbours from the enjoyment of their garden, having windows open or can ruin washing hanging on lines.  Fire can scorch trees, plants and fencing.  If having bonfires has a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality, is persistent or continuing in nature and is unreasonable this authority may take action under The Anti-social Behaviour and Policing Act 2014.  This legislation allows us to serve a community Protection Notice (following a written warning) requiring you to stop having bonfires or to dispose of your waste in an alternative way.  If you do not comply you could be served with a fixed penalty notice and/or prosecuted.

If you are bothered by smoke from a bonfire, firstly approach your neighbour and explain the problem. Immediate recourse to your Local Authority may cause animosity between you and your neighbour. Should this approach fail, it may be that an Environmental Health officer can assist. It is useful to keep records of the dates and times nuisance from the bonfires occurred

'Nuisance' is a vague term, however, because what one person may consider acceptable may be a nuisance to another person. The Environmental Health officer can help provide an assessment of the problem and establish whether or not a Statutory Nuisance is being suffered or whether any other action can be taken.

How can I have a bonfire without causing a nuisance?

If having a garden bonfire is the best practicable option for disposing of garden waste, we suggest you consider the following things before lighting your fire: ·

  • The weather conditions

  • The material to be burnt

  • The location of the fire in respect of neighbouring premises

  • The time the fire is lit

Ideally, you should warn neighbours that you are to have a bonfire. Neighbours that are aware of the bonfire are less likely to complain.

What Can I do to Minimise Nuisance?

  • Only burn dry material

  • Never burn household rubbish, rubber tyres, or anything containing plastic, foam or paint.

  • Never use an accelerant to light the fire or to encourage it.

  • Avoid having a bonfire at weekends or on a Bank Holiday.

  • Never leave the fire unattended.

  • Warn people nearby who could be affected.

  • Avoid damp or still weather conditions that would affect smoke dispersal.

  • Most importantly of all, use your common sense and consider other residents

  • Composting

  • Recycling

  • Disposing of garden waste/large items of refuse

How else can I get rid of garden waste?

  • Composting

  • Recycling

Environmental Health
tel: 0115 917 3282