Smoke from bonfires and chimneys from neighbouring properties, can affect people’s enjoyment of their homes and become a nuisance. We would encourage you not to have bonfires because they can cause air pollution and affect people with breathing difficulties.

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What you can do if experiencing a smoke nuisance

How we investigate

Frequently Asked Questions

Preventing a smoke nuisance

Instead of burning your waste please take it to our free recycling centerscompost garden waste at home , use our garden waste recycling service or use  our bulky waste collection service.Large quantities of waste can be disposed of via skips from registered waste carriers to registered sites. Details of skip companies are on the internet, advertised locally or listed in telephone directories etc.

Click on how to prevent a smoke nuisance for further information.

Contrary to popular belief, there is no law against lighting bonfires before a particular time. Any householder is able to have a bonfire, providing that it doesn’t cause an unreasonable nuisance to others.

If you are going to have a bonfire, please follow these guidelines.

Do           Tick         

Don't          Cross

Do let your neighbours know before you light a bonfire. By either talking to them or if you prefer, you could use this Sample Leaflet Drop Letter.

Don’t burn damp grass cuttings or other damp garden waste.

Do burn material in small amounts. Don’t burn oily rags, rubber, plastics, foams, car tyres etc.

Do consider using an incinerator instead of an open bonfire

Don’t light a bonfire when neighbours have hung out their washing or are enjoying their garden. Be considerate.

Do choose the location carefully – away from trees, fences if possible nearby homes.

Don’t leave a bonfire unattended. Never leave a bonfire once it is alight.

Do have a spade, fork, bucket of water/hose pipe ready in case you have to put it out quickly.

Don’t start a bonfire one hour before dusk.

Do leave the bonfire until weather conditions are right. E.g. when the wind is blowing away from neighbouring properties.


Don’t start a bonfire one hour before dawn.


Do consider shredding instead of a bonfire.


Don’t allow your bonfire to smoulder for long periods of time, especially overnight.

Do consider the frequency of the bonfires you are having – though you may only have one once a month, if every resident did this it could add up to one a day which is unreasonable.

What you can do if experiencing a smoke nuisance

If you are concerned about a lit bonfire being out of control or in a dangerous place please call 999 and ask for the fire service. 

If the smoke from the bonfire is causing a hazard in the road, then contact the police.

If you are concerned about unlit bonfires on open council land, parks and playing fields, report them to council connect on 01225 39 40 41 so they can be inspected and removed if they are considered to be dangerous.

Talk to your neighbour

It's always a good idea to try and resolve problems informally, by just politely letting your neighbour know if a bonfire has been causing a problem. You could do this by having a conversation or if you feel that you cannot speak to your neighbour, you could write a letter. You may like to use our template letter as an example.

Bonfire nuisance template letter Word doc

The council only has a duty to act and take enforcement action when it can be shown to be a statutory nuisance. The occasional bonfire is unlikely to be a statutory nuisance even though it may be an annoyance. To be classed as a statutory nuisance in terms of the law, it must be clear that the nuisance has a significant impact upon people nearby.

Report it to the Environmental Protection Team

If after considering the information above, you may report the bonfire to the Environmental Protection Team.

Please contact us on Tel 01225 477551 8.30am to 5.00pm Monday to Thursday and 8.30am to 4.30pm Friday 

If the bonfire  is happening out of office hours, then please contact us the next working day on Tel 01225 477551 in order to speak to an Environmental Health Officer about your concerns.

If you prefer to log your call at the time of the incident, then you may call:

Out of hours logging service - Tel 01225 477477.

Please note, we do not offer a reactive service to bonfires happening out of office hours. This is a logging service only. Calls logged will be passed to the Environmental Protection Team the next working day. They will then contact you within 2 working days.

What we need from you

When making a complaint you must include:

  • Your name, address and if possible contact telephone number(s) and your email address
  • The address you are complaining about and the type of nuisance (e.g. loud music, a barking dog, an extractor fan etc.)
  • When and for how long the nuisance normally occurs
  • The way the nuisance affects you e.g. prevents sleep

Anonymous complaints will not be investigated

How we investigate

Once we have confirmed that you wish to make a formal complaint, we will ask you to complete logs sheets for a period of 14 days. We will also write to the property that is allegedly causing the problem, to make them aware that a complaint has been received and advice on how to avoid further problems.

Complaints of regular occurring bonfires are investigated under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (Statutory Nuisance legislation). Factors that are examined during our investigation process are:

  • The time(s) at which it happens
  • How often it happens
  • How long it lasts
  • Intensity of the smoke
  • Type of smoke
  • Location and characteristics of the area

If the officer receives evidence that a statutory nuisance exists or the matter is unreasonable, a notice can be served upon the person(s) responsible. Failure to comply with the notice can result in court action. If convicted, the person responsible for the nuisance can face a fine.

FAQ's

  1. Are bonfires illegal?

  2. What time can I have a bonfire?
  3. Are there restrictions on what you can burn?
  4. How else can I dispose of my rubbish?
  5. What precautions should I take if I am going to have a bonfire
  6. Is it illegal to have a bonfire in a smoke control area
  7. Can I have a bonfire on my allotment?
  8. My neighbour is having a bonfire at the weekend and causing a nuisance, what can I do about it?
  9. Can BBQ smoke be a nuisance?
  10. I am being affected by dark smoke, what can be done?

Answers

  1. No, bonfires are not illegal. However, if a nuisance is being caused by a bonfire, then legal action can be taken to stop the nuisance. If you are bothered only by occasional bonfires, or a series of bonfires at different sites, this will not be regarded as constituting a nuisance as no individual can be held responsible.
  2. Contrary to popular belief, there is no law against lighting bonfires before a particular time. Any householder is able to have a bonfire, providing that it doesn’t cause an unreasonable nuisance to others. Having a bonfire every day or a large bonfire, is likely to cause a nuisance.
  3.  You should not burn :
  • Household waste
  • Damp grass cuttings or damp garden waste, as this will produce thick smoke
  • Oily rags, rubber, plastics, foams, car tyres etc. as these will give rise to black toxic smoke

  4.   Instead of burning your waste please take it to our free Recycling Centerscompost garden waste at home , use our garden waste recycling service or use  our bulky waste collection service. Large quantities of waste can be disposed of via skips from registered waste carriers to registered sites. Details of skip companies are on the Internet, advertised locally or listed in telephone directories etc.   

   5.   Please see our list of Do’s and Don’ts for further advice.

   6.   If you live within a smoke control area within the city of Bath, you are allowed to have a bonfire to burn natural garden waste, providing it does not cause a nuisance. The smoke control area only refers to open fire places or  conventional non approved wood burning or multi fuel stoves where you are not allowed to burn certain fuels such as wood and coal.

   7.   For rules regarding bonfires on allotments, it is best to contact your allotment administrator to seek further guidance. For rules regarding allotments run by Bath and North East Somerset Council, then please click Allotments in Bath.

  8.   If a neighbour is causing a nuisance with a bonfire at the weekend, you should try and resolve problems informally, by just politely letting your neighbour know if a bonfire has been causing a problem. They may be unaware they   are causing a nuisance. If you are unable to do this, then you would need to contact us the next working day on 01225 477551 to raise a formal complaint. We will ask you to complete logs sheets for a period of 14 days. We will also write to the property that is allegedly causing the problem, to make them aware that a complaint has been received and advise how to avoid further problems.

Bath and North East Somerset Council does not operate a reactive service out of hours.

  9.   Generally, smoke from BBQ’s will not amount to a statutory nuisance. It is not unreasonable for your neighbour to barbecue during the summer months and while this activity may generate a degree of smoke, there must be an element of live and let live.

  10.   If you are being affected by dark smoke from a business premises then please contact us on 01225 477551 as soon as possible, as different legislation applies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

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