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How to prevent a bonfire or smoke nuisance

Use this page to find out how you can reduce and prevent bonfire and smoke nuisances.

Smoke nuisance guidance

Smoke from bonfires and chimneys from neighbouring properties can affect people’s enjoyment of their homes and become a nuisance.

How we decide if smoke is a statutory nuisance

To be considered a statutory nuisance, it must be clear that the nuisance has a significant impact on people nearby.

We will assess the following factors to decide if a complaint is a statutory nuisance:

  • The times at which it happens
  • How often it happens 
  • How long it lasts 
  • The volume or intensity of the nuisance 
  • The location and characteristics of the area 

Instead of burning waste or rubbish, you should:

Preventing a smoke nuisance

Select a topic below for guidance and practical advice about how to reduce nuisances and prevent them in various settings.


If you are planning a bonfire, you should follow these guidelines:

  • Let your neighbours know before you light a bonfire
  • Burn materials in small amounts
  • Consider using an incinerator instead of an open bonfire
  • Position the bonfire away from trees, fences, and other homes if possible
  • Have a spade, bucket of water or hose pipe ready on case you have to put it out quickly
  • Consider shredding instead of a bonfire

There are several things you should not burn or do:

  • Don't burn damp grass cuttings or other damp garden waste
  • Don't burn oily rags, rubber, plastics, foams or car tyres
  • Never leave a bonfire once it is burning
  • Don't light a bonfire if your neighbours have hung out their washing or are enjoying their garden
  • Never start a bonfire after dusk or before dawn
  • Don't allow the bonfire to smoulder for long periods, especially overnight

Smoke from chimneys

Smoke from chimneys can also cause problems and could be a Statutory Nuisance if it is not clearing properly.

Smoke issues could be caused by a fault, such as a blockage or damaged brickwork.

You should always use appropriate fuel for your fireplace. Guidance on this is usually included by the manufacturer of your log burner or simialr heating appliance.

Factories and industrial processes

It is illegal to produce and release dark smoke from industrial premises without an Environmental Permit.

It is also an offence to burn anything in connection with industrial processes, such as:

  • plastics
  • rubber
  • foams
  • polystyrene

The correct equipment and other best practices can usually deal with smoke from factories.

Find out more about odour controls and Environmental Permits on the Environment Agency website.