Bonfires: advice and guidance

Alternatives to bonfires

There are several alternatives to having a bonfire to get rid of waste which are better for the environment and your garden. You could:

  • compost soft garden waste such as grass cuttings and leaves - this is the best means of disposal as it returns nutrients to the soil
  • cut woody garden waste short and pack it into your green wheelie bin as this cannot be easily composted
  • take large amounts of household and garden waste to your local household waste and recycling centre
  • consider hiring a skip from a private company – if you need to place the skip on the road or pavement rather than in your garden, then you need to obtain a licence
  • sign up to our garden waste collection service

If you want to dispose of bulky household items such as old furniture, mattresses and floor coverings, you can book a bulky waste collection.

If you have a bonfire

If you decide to have a bonfire, we advise you to follow these guidelines to reduce the likelihood of causing a problem:

  • advise your nearest neighbours before you light a bonfire so they can be prepared for any minor inconvenience that may arise
  • choose the time of day and weather conditions that will cause the least inconvenience - a bonfire when people have doors and windows open will cause greater annoyance
  • burn material quickly in small quantities so the minimum amount of smoke is created
  • be aware of where the smoke is likely to travel - consider your neighbours and roads
  • choose your bonfire site carefully, well away from trees, boundary fences and windows
  • do not burn wet or green garden waste as this creates heavy smoke - allow clippings to dry and turn brown for a couple of weeks before burning
  • do not burn any oily rags, rubber, plastics or other materials that will create heavy smoke or toxic fumes
  • do not light a bonfire when your neighbours have washing drying, are enjoying their gardens or have windows wide open
  • never leave a fire unattended
  • do not have a bonfire when there are unstable weather conditions as on windy days it can get out of control - have a hose pipe and buckets of water handy just in case

What to do after you’ve had a bonfire

Afterwards, you should:

  • hose the bonfire down until it’s cold
  • rake the ashes into the soil as a useful fertiliser and so they aren’t blown onto your neighbour’s property

Reporting a bonfire

If someone is having a bonfire which is causing a nuisance to your home or property, you can report a bonfire.