Bonfires and barbecues


Garden bonfires are usually lit to dispose of garden waste but always create smoke which adds to air pollution, particularly at a local level, and which will contribute to the general background level. Bonfire smoke can cause problems for asthmatics, bronchitis sufferers, and people with heart conditions, and frequently cause a nuisance to neighbours by preventing them from enjoying their gardens, opening windows or hanging washing out.

Any bonfire is a potential safety risk and can spread to fences or garden buildings, and piles of garden waste are often used as a refuge by animals, especially hedgehogs.

It is not always necessary to light a bonfire, and garden waste can be disposed of in various ways:

Bonfire guidelines

If a bonfire is the only practicable option for disposing of garden waste, please follow these guidelines to avoid causing nuisance:

  • only burn dry material and never burn household rubbish, rubber tyres, or anything containing plastic, foam or paint
  • don’t use old engine oil, meths or petrol to light the fire
  • choose a day when the wind will disperse the smoke quickly, but not blow it into your neighbour’s garden
  • avoid burning when air pollution in your area is high or very high – check the weather forecast, or the airTEXT website

See also “Garden Bonfires: the rules” published by GOV.UK


Sausage on a fork

Barbecues can easily cause annoyance through smoke and cooking smells so think of your neighbours:

  • Tell your neighbours about the barbecue, or invite them
  • Site the barbecue so the wind blows smoke away from your neighbours
  • Don’t light the barbecue when neighbours have their washing out

By following these simple tips you can help avoid unnecessary conflict and keep your barbecue fun for all involved!