BonfiresBonfires and burning waste


Burning waste often gives rise to complaints, especially if the bonfire contains damp and smouldering garden or household waste. The smoke and smell can annoy people and even be a nuisance.

Although there are no local by-laws allowing or prohibiting bonfires, there are national laws that can be enforced to protect the environment and minimise nuisance from bonfires.

The Environmental Protection Act 1990 allows the Council to take action against any person having a bonfire that produces smoke on a frequent or persistent basis or which interferes substantially with a persons wellbeing at home. An abatement notice may be served to the person responsible for such persistent bonfires with the potential for heavy fines for non-compliance.

The Clean Air Act 1993 makes it an offence to produce dark smoke from any industrial or trade premises (including building contractors at your home), regardless of whether or not the smoke is or has been causing a nuisance. The maximum fine for a conviction under the Clean Air Act is £20,000.

To make sure that you stay on the right side of the law, why not avoid a bonfire altogether by composting your garden waste, reducing the amount of waste you produce, recycling or arranging for a legitimate disposal of your waste?

Composting waste is much healthier for you and the environment, and it also saves a journey to the local tip! A composting bin will improve the quality of the compost you produce and help to keep the garden tidy. Composting bins are available in most of the DIY and garden centres, or you can make one easily from wood and wire mesh. You can cover it with old carpet for insulation and to keep the rain out.

Should you decide to have a bonfire, kindly note these recommendations:-

  • DO NOT burn damp grass clippings or ‘green’ material as this creates thick smoke
  • DO NOT burn any oily rags, rubber, plastics, damp garden waste or other materials which would inevitably create heavy smoke or toxic fumes.
  • DO NOT light a bonfire when your neighbours have washing drying, or are out enjoying their gardens or have windows wide open.
  • DO NOT light bonfires one hour before dusk, or leave them burning overnight. Choose the time of day and weather conditions that will cause the least inconvenience to neighbours.
  • DO NOT leave your fire to smoulder for long periods. Never leave a fire unattended. Hose it down until cold before you leave it.
  • DO advise your nearest neighbours before you light a bonfire so they can be prepared for any minor inconvenience that may arise.

Can I burn commercial waste?

It is recommended that commercial premises do not burn any waste, without checking with the Environment Agency that the activity is permitted or an exemption applies. Treating trade waste by burning, without a permit or an exemption can result in substantial fines irrespective of the impact on neighbours. Commercial waste must not be brought home and burnt at your household address.

For further information contact the Environment Agency on 03708 506506 or via the link given below. 

Phone Contact us....

Telephone: 01992 564000

Or you can write to us at:
Environment and Neighbourhoods Team, Environment & Street Scene, Epping Forest District Council,,  Epping, Essex CM16 4BZ


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