Bonfires and smoke

How can I complain about a bonfire nuisance?

There are no bylaws about garden bonfires, so anyone can light one at any time and as often as they like. 

However, if it causes a statutory nuisance,  the council can do something about it and so can you. For a bonfire to be classed as such a nuisance, the smoke will have to be affecting you in your home and/or garden.  It will also need to be happening on a regular basis (two or three times a week). 

There are laws relating to burning trade waste on industrial or commercial premises (including building sites).  If these bonfires emit dark smoke, then an immediate offence is committed and the council or Environment Agency can take action which could include prosecuting the offender.

Report a problem online

If you feel comfortable, speak to the person who has the bonfire and explain the problem it is causing.  If the problem still continues and is affecting you in your home or garden, you can make a complaint.

You can report a problem by using the contact details on this page or by filling in our online report form for bonfire smoke nuisance issues.

How to prevent your bonfire being a problem to others

Think about if you really need to have a bonfire to dispose of the waste.  We recommend either composting the waste or taking it to a county council waste recycling centre Oxfordshire County Council This link will take you to an external website... .  You may also wish to consider using the council's garden waste collection service.

If you still feel that having a bonfire is the only option, it is important that you follow the advice:

  • out of courtesy, inform your neighbours you are proposing to have a bonfire
  • only burn dry 'clean' wood/garden waste 
  • do not burn household rubbish, such as plastic, foam, paint or rubber.
  • do not light bonfires when the material is damp because this shall generate more smoke
  • do not use old engine oil, meths or petrol to light the fire
  • do not light bonfires when the wind is likely to blow smoke into neighbours' home or garden
  • do not leave bonfires unattended, even if it is just smouldering.

Last reviewed: 24 - 03 - 2015

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