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Smoke and odour from bonfires, barbeques and fire pits should not cause a nuisance to your neighbour.

There are no specific laws which prohibit bonfires, barbeques or the use of fire pits or the times that someone can have one, but it must not stop your neighbours from enjoying their home and garden too.

You should take precautions if you are having a bonfire, barbeque, or using a fire pit:

  • Inform your neighbours.
  • How often you are having a bonfire, barbeque or using the fire pit and creating smoke.
  • Never burn rubber, synthetic material or other chemicals as these can produce toxic and damaging fumes.
  • Take great care if using lighter fluid
  • Site the bonfire, barbeque or fire pit carefully, ensuring that it is as far as possible from any fences or buildings.
  • Make sure that the wind direction will not blow smoke or odour into neighbouring premises.
  • Never light a bonfire, barbeque or fire pit when neighbours have washing drying.
  • Ensure the bonfire, barbeque or fire pit is supervised at all times and that it is properly extinguished.
  • At no time should the smoke blow across a highway (road or footpath) as this is an offence under the Highways Act.

For more information on how to avoid causing a nuisance to neighbours, see our Garden Bonfires page.

If you are being affected by smoke or odour

If the smoke (or ash etc) or odour affects your property and stops you doing something, for example gardening, hanging out washing or opening windows, then we may be able to help.

To report an incident or for advice please contact Environmental Health.

We may ask you to keep a record of occurrences to enable us to decide whether we should investigate further.

Alternatives to burning

There is no need to burn waste because household waste can be put in either your bin or recycling containers. You can arrange a bulky item collection by calling 01438 218888. Domestic rubbish or garden waste can be taken to the Household Recycling Centre.

Legal action against bonfires

Action can be taken under The Environmental Protection Act 1990 if they cause a nuisance to others. An owner, occupier or person responsible for the nuisance can be served with a smoke abatement notice preventing further nuisance. Contravention of a notice is an offence.

Individuals can take their own legal action under section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. For this to succeed you will have to prove your case in Court and may wish to instruct a Solicitor.

If the smoke from a bonfire is blowing across a highway, the Police can take action under the Highways Act.

The Clean Air Act 1993 make emissions of dark or black smoke from the burning of trade waste an offence for which we can take legal proceedings.

Environmental Health

Stevenage Borough Council
Daneshill House

01438 242908 / 242916