Bonfires and smoke

Bonfires and smoke nuisance

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 bonfires in a residential area can seriously affect the enjoyment of being outdoors for other people and can also affect them inside their homes. It can also contribute to local air pollution levels and in some locations, reduce visibility on nearby roads.

We encourage all residents to be considerate of their local communities and the environment by not having bonfires and using clean fuel for domestic heating. The coronavirus is known to cause serious respiratory problems, which could be made much worse if the sufferer is exposed to smoke from bonfires.

Bonfires can also become out of control or cause accidents, creating extra pressure on the already busy emergency services.

Before you have a bonfire, please consider the more environmentally friendly ways to dispose of your waste, either in your regular household collections, or if its garden waste, by creating a compost area in your garden.

If you are affected regularly by smoke in your home and/or garden you can report this to the council using the Environmental Health complaint form. You will need to keep a diary of the smoke incidents which affect you over a period of two weeks. To help us investigate, we will need details of:

  • The date and time the bonfires are held.
  • How long they last each time.
  • The address of where they are happening.
  • How it affects your use and enjoyment of your home and garden.

Garden waste

If you have garden waste, ideally this should be:

Top tips if you need to have a bonfire

Before you have a bonfire, please think about how this might affect your neighbours.

Bonfires cause local air pollution from smoke, odour and ash, which can affect your neighbours in their homes and gardens. In some locations, smoke can reduce visibility on nearby roads. Smoke can also adversely affect people with some existing medical conditions.

Before you have a bonfire, consider more environmentally friendly ways to dispose of your waste, such as home composting or join the green waste club. Visit www.tandridge.gov.uk/gardenwaste for more information.

Here are a few tips if you are thinking about having a bonfire:

  • Let your neighbours know beforehand so they can close windows and take in their washing.
  • Avoid having a bonfire when the wind may blow the smoke into neighbouring gardens and homes.
  • Avoid having one when the air is still and damp, or in the evenings when smoke does not disperse as well.
  • Make sure the bonfire is well away from neighbouring properties, sheds and fences.
  • Never burn plastics, painted materials, plywood and chipboard as these give off poisonous chemicals.
  • Only burn very dry materials which will burn more quickly and produce less smoke.
  • Never leave a bonfire unattended or smouldering for hours.