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Bonfires

A single bonfire is unlikely to be a nuisance even if it is annoying for neighbours.To be a nuisance, we need details about:

  • How often the bonfires are held.
  • How long they last.
  • Where they are. 
  • How it affects your use and enjoyment of your land.

To report a bonfire nuisance please use the Environmental Health complaint form. You need to keep a diary of serious smoke incidents for two weeks, using the record of bonfire incidents.

Garden Bonfire with rake

There is no law against having bonfires and there are no set times restricting when they can be lit, though it is an offence for the smoke to cause a statutory nuisance. Smoke from garden bonfires in a residential area can seriously affect the residential amenity and enjoyment of other premises. It can also contribute to local air pollution levels and, in some locations, reduce visibility on nearby roads.

If materials are dry and burn quickly creating little smoke, then there is usually little problem, providing the smoke does not blow directly towards occupied premises. Damp vegetation, however, does not burn well as it produces large volumes of smoke and smoulders for long periods of time. The burning of this type of waste causes most complaints and so it should be disposed of in other ways.

Ideally garden waste should be:

  • Composted and reused in the garden.
  • Garden shredders significantly reduce the volume of garden waste, making it easier to handle, and can speed up the composting process.
  • There is a garden waste collection service for householders.
  • Non-compostable garden waste can be taken to the recycling sites at Chaldon Road, Caterham and Bond Road, Warlingham.