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Report a smoke or bonfire problem


Problems with Smoke, Bonfires or Wood Burners.

If you are experiencing problems with neighbouring properties and smoke, bonfires or wood burners then please complete the Report a smoke or bonfire problem form


Many complaints are received about smoke caused by bonfires, and there is a great deal of misunderstanding concerning the law on this subject. This note attempts to clarify the position.

  • Bonfires must not be lit as to cause a nuisance to neighbouring premises. There are no times when bonfires may be lit as of right
  • The law requires that smoke emission from any source that causes a nuisance must be avoided
  • Residents are advised to dispose of garden waste by making a compost heap. This converts green garden waste into valuable compost which can be used as a soil conditioner, and thus takes away the need for bonfires
  • Some woody garden waste, such as rose pruning's or fruit canes, are difficult to compost. If these are to be burnt they must be allowed to dry before burning
  • Any bonfire that is considered to be essential must be carefully started with a small amount of dry material, and properly attended, so that it can be built up as the heat increases
  • At no time must fresh, green plant material be placed on a bonfire, and under no circumstances should a bonfire be heaped up and left to smoulder.
  • Observing these rules will ensure that dry plant materials are burnt with minimum smoke emission and will avoid committing an offence
  • Garden refuse should be placed in brown wheeled bins or in green bags. It can also be taken to a local Household Waste and Recycling centres, and deposited in the skips provided for this purpose
  • All household refuse must be disposed of either in the normal refuse collection bin, by taking to a Household Waste and Recycling Centre, or by the Special Collection Service for large items such as furniture, mattresses etc. 
  • Any waste material as a result of DIY activity must be disposed of in the correct manner at a Household Waste and Recycling Centre. Material resulting from building works at a house should be disposed of by the builder
  • It is emphasised that residents are responsible for avoiding smoke emission that causes a nuisance, as this is an offence.

Failure to comply with this information and advice may result in legal proceedings and financial penalties.

Smoky car vehicles

Smoky vehicles damage the environment, worsen air quality and in the borough of Waltham Forest vehicles are the main source of air pollution.

Keeping a car well maintained is essential, especially for the MOT test. VOSA (Vehicle and Operator Services Agency) operates a service to vehicle operators to prevent them receiving a prohibition notice on their vehicle (either from VOSA or the Police) under Section 69 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 or the driver and/or owner being prosecuted under Section 40A and/or Section 42 of the same Act.

If you see a vehicle that may be emitting excessive smoke you can either report it to the VOSA operated smoky vehicle hotline: 0300 123 9000

Or complete a smoky vehicle report card

They will want to know:

  • The vehicle registration number (displayed on the number plate)
  • The type of vehicle (be as specific as possible)
  • The date, time and place where you saw the vehicle
  • If possible the name of the vehicles operator (the company or owner)

There is more information on the VOSA web site.

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