Smoke and smells from bonfires are the subject of many complaints to the council so bonfires in close proximity to your neighbours should generally be avoided.
There are no laws against having a bonfire, but there are laws for the nuisance they can cause.
Nuisance from bonfires
An occasional small garden bonfire burning dry wood or plant material may be acceptable. This includes bonfires on allotments.
Burning other household materials such as painted wood, plastics, furniture or mattresses may not.
There are no restrictions on the hours when you can have a bonfire.
Regular fires which cause smoke pollution may be considered a statutory nuisance. We can take action against those that create serious pollution from bonfires.
You could be fined if you light a fire and you allow the smoke to drift across the road and become a danger to traffic.
What to do if bonfires are causing a nuisance
Speak to the person causing the problem
They may respond better to a polite word from you rather than a visit from a council official.
Contact us if you would like to discuss this, or need help to plan the best way to do it.
Write to the person causing the problem
They may respond better to a polite letter from you rather than an official one from the council.
Use a mediation service
This can prove effective in finding long-term solutions to neighbour issues and it can avoid the possible unpleasantness that may arise if the council becomes involved and has to take formal action.
Yorkshire Mediation is an independent organisation offers a confidential dispute resolution service across Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield. Contact them if you think you would benefit from mediation.
Complain to Homes and Neighbourhoods or registered social landlords
If you live in a house managed by the council, or if the problems come from a council tenant, action may be taken under the terms of the tenancy agreement. Homes and Neighbourhoods will be able to give you advice on this: Contact Homes and Neighbourhoods
Similar action may be taken by registered social landlords if their tenants are in breach of tenancy conditions.
Report it to the council
Complain about a bonfire
Fill in our simple online form.
Clock Completing this form takes around 10 minutes
Paperclip We are unable to investigate anonymous complaints. If you make a complaint your details are kept confidential. See our privacy statement.
After you've reported it
We will visit your neighbour and/or write to them telling them we have received a complaint and explain their responsibilities about nuisance. We do not tell them the name of the person who has complained at this stage.
If the problem continues
- We can issue an abatement notice if a neighbour's bonfire is causing a nuisance. A bonfire must happen frequently to be considered a nuisance.
- We will ask you to keep written records which help us to try to witness the problem and enable us to take formal action. You can record them on this Complaints record sheet. Make sure you record:
- the date
- start and finish times
- description of the nuisance
- where it is coming from
- how if affects you
- Your neighbour can be fined up to £5,000 if they don't stick to the notice.
If the case goes to court
- We may require you to be a witness and may not be able to keep the complaint anonymous.
- You may have to give evidence in a court of law against the person causing the problem.
Consult a solicitor
You could use a solicitor to write a letter on your behalf to the person causing the problem or to give you legal advice.
Take your own legal action
You can take your own legal action in the Magistrates' Court. We have an information booklet about how to do this. Contact us if you would like a copy of it.
Alternatives to bonfires
You can get rid of household or garden waste by composting or recycling it.
Waste sites and recycling
Advice and guidance
If you have a bonfire, we suggest that you:
- limit the amount of fires you have
- avoid evenings and weekends when people like to enjoy their gardens
- make sure the wind direction doesn't blow the smoke directly onto your neighbour's property
- avoid damp, still days when smoke hangs in the air
- avoid times when your neighbour has washing hanging out.
Celebrating with bonfires and fireworks
Simple measures that can help you celebrate with bonfires safely.
Burning of waste on campfires and bonfires
Guidance on campfires at Scout and Guide centres and Guy Fawkes' night bonfires.
Bonfire safety tips
Once a bonfire is lit, make sure you:
- keep a bucket of water or a garden hose nearby in case of emergencies
- don't leave the bonfire unattended
- keep children and pets away from the bonfire
- don't throw any fireworks into the fire
- don't burn aerosols, tyres, canisters or anything containing foam or paint - many of them produce toxic fumes and some containers may explode, causing injury