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Bonfires and Smoke Nuisance

Bonfires - do I or don't I?

A bonfire can be a convenient way of getting rid of a large amount of waste. But the smoke and smell from a bonfire can upset your neighbours, prevent them from having their windows open, using their garden or hanging their washing out.

Think about it - do you really need a bonfire?

A bonfire releases pollutants such as carbon monoxide and dioxins into the air that are damaging to local air quality and to human health. They have a particularly acute effect on asthmatics, bronchitis sufferers, people with heart conditions, children and the elderly. Is a bonfire really the best way to dispose of your waste?

What do I do with my waste then?

Household waste should always be disposed of through the household waste collection service. For further information please contact Environmental Care on 01536 410333.

But I really want a bonfire!

If a bonfire is the most practicable and environmentally friendly way to dispose of dry garden waste (for example, diseased plant material that cannot be composted), follow the steps below to avoid complaint and/or an enforcement visit from a Council Officer:

  1. Warn your neighbours well in advance. They are much less likely to complain. This gives them a chance to bring washing in and/or close doors and windows.

  2. Make sure you locate your bonfire as far away from neighbouring properties (and fences) as possible.

  3. Think about the weather conditions, will the wind blow the smoke directly onto your neighbours house?

  4. Avoid burning when people are likely to want to enjoy their gardens, weekends and early evenings for example.

  5. NEVER leave your bonfire unattended . You risk a visit from the Fire Brigade and being billed for their call out fee. Make sure you have a means of extinguishing the fire if it gets out of hand.

  6. Only burn dry materials and NEVER EVER burn old tyres, foam, painted or other treated wood such as MDF, chipboard or any kind of plastic.

  7. NEVER use petrol or lighter fluid to light the fire or encourage it to burn.

If you follow these guidelines it is unlikely your bonfire will give your neighbours cause for complaint.


What if my neighbour is having a bonfire, should I approach them to put it out?

If you're bothered by smoke from your neighbours bonfire, approach your neighbour and explain the situation. You might feel awkward, but they may not be aware they are causing you a problem. They can't put things right if they don't know something is bothering you.

Action by the Council

If your neighbour doesn't respond well, contact Environmental Health either using the online form or on 01536 410333.  Officers will offer advice on whether a formal investigation is appropriate. You may be asked to keep a diary to see how often the bonfires cause you a problem. A one off or occasional bonfire is not generally actionable by the Council.

What about smoke from barbecues and chimneas/fire pits?

This would be dealt with by the Council in the same way as smoke from bonfires.

What about smoke from industrial or trade premises?

Different legislation applies to non-domestic premises. Burning waste that does or is likely to produce black or dark smoke is a legal offence. Ideally, waste should be disposed of in ways other than burning as part of a waste disposal contract, especially wastes such as treated timbers, plastics and other man made materials, and large amounts of green waste. For large construction and demolition sites there may be an Environment Agency exemption that allows the site to burn waste in a controlled manner. For more advice contact Environmental Health on 01536 410333 or via environmentalprotection@kettering.gov.uk



Last updated 29/09/2017


Get in touch with Kettering Borough Council

Email: customerservices@kettering.gov.uk. Telephone: 01536 410333.

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