Fire

Bonfires

A single bonfire is not classed as 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 .

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 enjoyment of being outdoors for other people. 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 they create little smoke, as long as the smoke does not blow directly towards occupied premises. Damp vegetation 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:

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.