Bonfires are dealt with under two areas of legislation,
Clean Air Acts and the Environmental
The Clean Air Acts make it a direct offence to burn materials in
the open air on industrial or commercial premises, (including
farms), which create dark or black smoke. This is an offence for
which there are direct powers of prosecution.
Bonfires of a more typical nature, e.g. garden waste which occur
usually at domestic premises are dealt with as a form of nuisance
where the reasonable enjoyment of another person's land or house is
being adversely affected. On receipt of a complaint of this form of
nuisance the officers of the Environment Team will contact the
person causing the smoke nuisance to encourage alternative means of
disposal e.g. composting or recycling at one of the waste
reclamation sites. An advice leaflet concerning issues relating to
bonfires is available via the Customer Service Centre or Tenbury
Area Office. If informal encouragement fails and a witnessed
nuisance persists then issue of an abatement nuisance would be the
next course of action, although formal action of this nature is
Local Byelaws and General Guidance:
Contrary to popular belief, there are no local bylaws which
provide, for example, an amnesty for those wishing to have a
bonfire after 6:00 pm. There are no exemptions to the general
principle of not causing a nuisance to your neighbours by the
persistent lighting of bonfires. An occasional fire is usually
acceptable provided that general common sense measures are taken,
such as :
- Take account of wind strength and direction and only have a
fire at all if it is in a position of at least 30-40 metres from a
neighbour. If smoke is blowing directly towards neighbours
extinguish the fire as soon as is practicable.
- Take account of the potential risk from hot embers carrying
over to other buildings and fences.
- Ensure that items to be burned are as dry as possible with the
intention of having a quickly burning hot fire rather than a damp
smoldering fire which creates smoke over a prolonged period.
- Do not burn items of household waste or materials covered in
paint or containing plastics as they will create dark or black
smoke as well as acrid fumes.
- Do not leave any fire unattended or use accelerants such as
petrol to boost the performance of a fire.
See Garden Bonfires for
Another useful site is Environmental
Protection UK, formerly the National Society for Clean Air
(NSCA). This site also has information on other Environmental