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Smoke and smells


Many complaints are received about smoke caused by bonfires, and there is a great deal of misunderstanding concerning the law on this subject. The following information summarises 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 and mattresses
  • 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.

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