Bonfires and burning materials

There are no laws that prohibit bonfires, but there are laws around the problems they may cause and the burning of certain materials.

Call 999 if you are concerned about smoke from a building, or smoke causing poor visibility on a highway.

You can make a complaint about bonfires or burning materials.

Find out about air pollution in New Forest.

On this page:


There are no restrictions on when you can or cannot have a bonfire. However, you shouldn't cause a smoke nuisance to anyone.

In warm weather, windows may be left open and people may be enjoying their gardens well into the evening period. You should always respect the reasonable wishes of your neighbours.

Disposing of garden waste

If you intend to use a bonfire to dispose of garden waste, consider the alternatives:

Advice on using bonfires

You can reduce the effects caused by bonfires by following this advice.


  • have as few bonfires as possible
  • tell your neighbours when you intend to light it
  • build it as far away from neighbouring properties as possible
  • keep bonfires away from fences, hedges or other combustible materials
  • burn only dry vegetation or clean, untreated wood
  • have plenty of water ready
  • attend the fire at all times
  • continually monitor whether the fire might cause annoyance
  • extinguish the fire if necessary.


  • light a bonfire if the wind will blow smoke across neighbouring properties
  • light a bonfire if a neighbour is using or is likely to use their garden
  • light a bonfire if there is washing on a neighbour's line
  • light a bonfire if the weather is wet, windy or misty
  • burn any green cuttings or wet material
  • burn household waste, plastics, rubber or any other material which would cause dark smoke or harmful combustion products
  • allow smoke to blow across a road
  • leave a fire smouldering.

Solid fuel appliances and wood burners

Burning that takes places at people's households can be one of the biggest contributors to pollution in the UK. 

From the 1 May 2021, the government are phasing out two of the most polluting fuels, traditional house coal and wet wood, to help improve air quality. In addition, the 'Ready to Burn' logo has been introduced to help customers choose less polluting alternatives, dry wood and manufactured solid fuels. Further information can be found on the Ready to Burn website:

We are working with other Hampshire councils and a local environmental charity, the Environment Centre (tEC), to promote cleaner burning in open fires, stoves and bonfires. 

If you use a solid fuel appliance you should:

Burn less: Reduce burning where possible, keep stoves and fires for particularly cold weather or if they are your only heating source

Burn cleaner: Use cleaner fuels such as smokeless, authorised fuels or dry, well-seasoned wood with low moisture content

Burn better: Use efficient appliances which have been correctly sized for the room, don't shut off air or allow the temperature to drop, and service and clean them regularly. Don't allow burning to continue through the night

Burn differently: If possible, switch heating to no or low emission fuels, such as renewable, electric or gas alternatives

You should also ensure the flue is of sufficient height to achieve adequate smoke dispersion. It is recommended that wood burning stoves (or any appliances burning solid fuel) do not have a cap or cowl on the discharge end of the flue that impedes the upward vertical flow of emissions from the flue. This causes the smoke to flow back down to the ground (down-wash) and increases the likelihood of causing annoyance to your neighbours.

For more information and advice on wood burning, see the Environment Centre website

To read the laws about burning certain types of waste, and to prevent bonfires causing a nuisance, visit the government website

If you are struggling to stay warm or pay energy bills, call the Southampton and Hampshire advice line 0800 804 8601.


Smoke control areas

The Clean Air Act 1993 introduced a wide range of new regulations, such as those which control smoke emissions.

There are no smoke control areas within New Forest. However, care should be taken when choosing a fuel to avoid causing smoke problems to your neighbours.


Contact details

You can contact us to make a complaint about anything detailed above, or to ask questions about bonfires and burning materials. 


Phone: 02380 285411

Environmental Health (Protection)
Appletree Court
Beaulieu Road
SO43 7PA

Our office hours are:

Monday to Thursday: 8.45am to 5.15pm

Fridays: 8.45am to 4.45pm

You can report problems with bonfires and other burning materials to us.

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