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.

Bonfires

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 below.

Advice on using bonfires

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

Do:

  • 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.

Don't:

  • 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.

You can download GOV.UK's guidance on bonfire nights below.

Icon for pdf Guidance on Celebrating Bonfire Night [74.63KB]

Solid fuel appliances and wood burners

When using a solid fuel appliance or wood burner, you should ensure that:

  • only seasoned wood or smokeless fuel is burned
  • the appliance reaches a high temperature as soon as possible, to ensure efficient burning
  • the fire is not burning throughout the night
  • the burner is the appropriate size for the room
  • the flue is of sufficient height to achieve adequate smoke dispersion
  • the flue is cleaned on an annual basis.

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.

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.

Email: eandr@nfdc.gov.uk

Phone: 02380 285411

Environmental Health (Protection)
Appletree Court
Beaulieu Road
Lyndhurst
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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