Garden bonfires: the rules

Covid-19 guidance  

Smoke from burning fires can have a harmful effect on people with breathing difficulties, respiratory illness and those suffering with Coronavirus (Covid-19). You should avoid lighting fires to help protect others.  

Bonfires

There are no restrictions on the days and times controlled bonfires can burn. 

What to do if you are worried about a bonfire

If you think a bonfire is out of control, causing excessive smoke or is safety hazard call 999 and ask for Fire. 

If a bonfire is causing smoke to drift across a road and become a danger to traffic, please contact the Police

Burning domestic waste

You cannot get rid of household waste if it will cause pollution or harm people’s health. This includes burning it.

Every year in Gloucester, firefighters are called out several times a week to deal with unnecessary rubbish fires.

If you need to get rid of household or garden waste you can compost it or recycling it, find out how to dispose of garden waste and about household recycling.

What you need to know

The Environmental Protection Act 1990 enables us to deal formally with domestic bonfires using statutory nuisance provisions of the Act. However, the legislation is difficult to enforce because it can only be applied to frequent lighting of bonfires at premises.

The lighting of a single bonfire cannot be controlled using this legislation.

Commercial bonfires are controlled by the Clean Air Act 1993. It's an offence to produce dark or black smoke from a bonfire at commercial premises.

Action you can take about a neighbour’s bonfire

You should first try to resolve the problem early on by talking to whoever is responsible for the bonfire as they may not be aware that the smoke or smell is causing a problem. 

You could ask them to consider:

  • recycling more
  • taking items to the local waste disposal site
  • arranging a bulky collection
  • placing garden plant waste in a garden waste bin 

If you’re worried about approaching them, write a letter, explaining the problem clearly and sticking to the facts. You can use this letter (DOCX, 14.3 KB) template to send to the person or organisation responsible for the bonfire.

You may be able to resolve the issue without having to make a formal complaint. 

How to report a bonfire, outdoor burner, firepit or barbeque 

We have responsibility to investigate complaints of smoke and fumes that could be a ‘statutory nuisance’.

We can investigate complaints about issues that could be a 'statutory nuisance' under the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Find out what counts as a statutory nuisance from GOV.UK (opens in new tab).

Involving the Council with a view to legal action should normally be a last resort. Any formal action activated by the council has to satisfy the threshold of evidence and be admissible in a court of law, this is a complex and often lengthy process.

Report a statutory nuisance 

 

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