Report a bonfire or nuisance smoke
An update on bonfires during the coronavirus outbreak
It is understood that bonfires can be a quick and easy way of getting rid of garden rubbish. However during the current Covid 19 crisis we are asking that you do not have any further bonfires. While we are largely confined to our properties we are likely to suffer higher levels of nuisance from activities such as bonfires so it is important that we all take responsibility to ensure that such nuisances do not happen.
Please be aware that people suffering from respiratory conditions including Covid 19 will be adversely affected by smoke. It could make their symptoms far worse meaning that they need to be hospitalised putting further strain on the NHS.
- Most garden waste can be composted into a useful soil conditioner, saving you the cost of buying commercial products.
- Store the garden waste, turning it regularly. This will enable the waste to dry so that it can be transported to your nearest Household Waste Recycling Centre when restrictions are lifted.
To report an issue you need to be registered for a My Account. This will save you having to re-enter information and allow you to track the progress of the report.
There is no law against having a bonfire and it is permissible to burn vegetation, however, it must not be so persistent or regular as to cause a nuisance to neighbouring properties.
How can we help?
Please see Government Guidance on garden bonfires and smoke nuisance for further information.
Use this page to get help with a bonfire or smoke nuisance that is:
- happening frequently
- a large bonfire causing a nuisance or danger to others
- burning man-made materials such as plastic
If you have seen smoke drifting across a public highway, contact the Police on 101.
It is an offence for an industrial or commercial property to produce dark smoke either from a chimney or from a commercial or industrial premises or a bonfire.
If you have seen any dark smoke from commercial or trade premises, contact us immediately on 01935 462462.
For information on domestic wood burning, including wood burning stoves and chimneys, visit our air quality page.
What should I do?
If the smoke is adversely affecting you in your home, you may find the following advice helpful.
The people having the bonfires or creating the smoke may not know that they are causing a problem.
Get in contact with them before reporting the issue to us. This way you can resolve the matter quickly and maintain a good relationship.
If you don’t feel comfortable speaking to the individual or business, use this template letter to help you.
Keep a copy of your letter and start recording any events that affect you or that you feel are a cause for concern.
What if the bonfires or nuisance smoke continues?
If the person or business hasn’t responded to your requests, complete our online form using the button below. You will be asked to sign up for, or sign in to, your account before completing the form.
We will get in contact with the people responsible for the nuisance.
Your details will not be shared with them unless we decide to prosecute.
For further details on what action the Council can take please refer to the Government Guidance on garden bonfires and smoke nuisance
How will you investigate my complaint?
We will decide if the bonfire or smoke is a statutory nuisance (covered by the Environmental Protection Act 1990 or, in the case of a business, whether they have demonstrated "best practical means" i.e. if the bonfire has been conducted in the correct or most efficient way).
If we find a statutory nuisance exists an Abatement Notice will be served. This will require the person responsible to stop or reduce the bonfires or smoke nuisance. This person will also be liable to a fine, if they do not comply with the notice.
We can only take court action if an Abatement Notice has not been complied with. This will only be considered as a last resort. If we do start court proceedings you must be prepared to give evidence to the Court under oath.
Please refer to the Government Guidance on garden bonfires and smoke nuisance
What if my issue is not considered as a nuisance?
We investigate complaints from an impartial position. You may be told that no statutory nuisance was found or that we couldn’t gather enough evidence. In this case, you can take your complaint directly to the Magistrates Court under Section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.