How to deal with bonfires and smoke

There are no laws banning or restricting bonfires, but they must not cause a nuisance which could, for example, prevent others from using their garden or opening windows.

If you're experiencing a problem with a bonfire, try to contact your neighbour at the earliest opportunity or carry out mediation before reporting the issue to us.

This is often the best way to resolve a problem.

Speak or write to your neighbour

You should try speaking to your neighbour as they may not realise they are causing an issue.

You could also try writing them a letter - you can use our letter template if you’re unsure what to write.

Resolving neighbour disputes

You may want to consider contacting Mediation Bucks who offer a free service to assist in resolving disputes between neighbours.

You can find further information about resolving neighbour disputes on GOV.UK, including how you can take action through the courts.

If you're having a bonfire

Although bonfires may be a convenient way to get rid of large amounts of waste, there may be better options which are better for the environment and your garden, including our garden waste collection service.

If you do choose to have a bonfire, read our advice and guidelines to reduce the likelihood of causing a problem.

Report the burning of trade waste

Businesses are responsible for ensuring their waste is disposed of in a suitable manner.

To report a business for burning waste, call the Environment Agency on 0800 80 70 60.

It is an offence to:

  • burn trade waste - businesses can be prosecuted and face an unlimited fine
  • cause black or dark smoke - businesses can be prosecuted and face an unlimited fine

If you want to burn plant or natural wood as part of your business, you must apply to the Environment Agency for a D7 exemption.

How to report to us

Keep a nuisance diary

If the nuisance continues, you should keep a nuisance diary for at least 2 weeks which shows the time and duration of when the bonfire or smoke occurs. You'll need this if you want to make a formal report to us.

As this is a legal process, we’ll require good evidence of the light and the effect it is having on you. Without this, it’s unlikely that we’ll be able to progress our investigation.

When we can investigate

We can only take legal action to stop or prevent fires where the smoke:

  • is ongoing
  • lasts for a long time when it happens
  • has a significant impact on your enjoyment of your property

How we may be able to help

Once we’ve received your completed diary, we’ll review the information to see whether we can investigate further.

Investigations and any enforcement action will be considered on a case-by-case basis. As such, the investigating officer will determine the most appropriate course of action.

Report online

You can report a bonfire online.

You’ll also need to send us your nuisance diary.

Before you make a report, you should think about whether you would be prepared to give evidence in court. You should also be aware that any formal reports may need to be declared in the future.

Report now