Air pollution

We have powers to deal with complaints about air pollution (i.e. bonfires, smoke and dust) causing nuisance to our residents.

Air pollution complaints

Domestic bonfires

If smoke from a bonfire causes a nuisance to others, we can serve an Abatement Notice requiring the nuisance to stop. Breach of an Abatement Notice is an offence.

Alternatives to bonfires include home composting and taking green waste to the nearest waste recycling centre. Bonfires are less likely to make smoke if only dry material is burned and the fire is quick and hot.

There are no local byelaws about bonfires. Our advice is that you should have bonfires only occasionally and at times and in weather conditions when the smoke is unlikely to cause nuisance to your neighbours. If you are going to have a bonfire, follow these simple rules:

  • Think about composting as an alternative or taking your waste to a local recycling centre.
  • Burn only dry materials
  • Never burn general household rubbish, plastics, foam, treated wood or similar items
  • Check no-one has any laundry drying in nearby gardens and remember that smoke can drift some way
  • It is often a good idea to let your neighbours know if you planning to light a bonfire
  • Don't have a fire late in the evening as the smoke tends to hang close to the ground.
  • Have a quick, hot fire to reduce smoke emissions.
  • Remember your personal safety and never use liquid fuels to get a fire going.

Commercial bonfires

Businesses must comply with the law on waste management in deciding how to dispose of their waste. It is generally unlawful to burn waste arising from a business, but there are some exemptions. Further advice should be sought from the Environment Agency.

Builders are legally allowed to burn vegetation cleared on a site. They cannot bring material from other sites to burn and general waste should not be burned along with it. Builders are encouraged to ensure that material is clean and dry and that all due care is taken to avoid nuisance to neighbours.

For demolition sites, it is usual for clean dry wood to be burned, but wood that has been painted, tarred or treated in some other way (and all other waste) must be taken away for proper disposal. It is an offence to burn material that emits dark smoke.

Dark smoke

It is an offence to emit dark smoke from industrial or trade premises. Dark smoke may be emitted from chimneys for limited periods under certain circumstances, but the effect of the law is that every reasonable step must be taken to prevent such an emission.

Dark smoke from open burning (bonfires) on industrial or trade premises is a serious environmental offence and the Council will usually investigate incidents with a view to formal proceedings against offenders.

Chimney height applications

Certain new chimneys for large combustion appliances require prior approval of their height to prevent pollution at ground level. More information can be obtained from our Environmental Protection team.

Contact our Environmental Protection team

Smoke and fumes from Buildings

We can use our powers under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to deal with smoke and fumes from buildings which are causing nuisance to neighbours.

If you are bothered by any of the above you can report it to our Environmental Protection team.
Report air pollution


Open fires and wood-burning stoves have risen in popularity over recent years. This means we now see more smoke from chimneys which can have a negative effect on air quality and give rise to complaints. The Open Fires and Wood Burning Stoves  leaflet provides simple steps for those that use wood burning stoves or open fires to reduce environmental and health impacts.