Smoke pollution & bonfires


Every year we receive a large number of complaints about bonfires causing a nuisance. To report a bonfire which is causing a nuisance, or to find out how not to cause one, follow the instructions below.

Bonfire Night

If you are planning to celebrate bonfire night, then please read this government guide to ensure your evening is safe and enjoyable.

How to report smoke pollution

  1. Contact us online, or by e-mail, telephone or letter (our details are at the foot of this page);
  2. Information we will need from you:
    - your full name;
    - your full address including your postcode;
    - your home telephone number and a number which we can contact you on during normal office hours if this is different;
    - your email address (if applicable);
    - how you would like us to get back to you, and;
    - the location of the bonfire/source of smoke (as specific as possible).

Further information

Night-time bonfireBonfires & the Law

The Environmental Protection Act 1990 allows us to take offenders to court should their bonfires cause a nuisance to neighbours (i.e. have an unreasonable effect on their enjoyment of their home or garden).

Any bonfire on trade premises which causes dark smoke is an offence regardless of whether anybody else is affected (section 2, 1993 Clean Air Act).

Fines & penalties

The fines could be up to £20,000 for each offence. If you have a complaint we would ask you to keep a diary of events to assist officers investigating the matter.

Currently there are no byelaws which allow or prohibit burning.

Don't burn it, recycle it!

Norfolk County Council's Household Waste Recycling Centres are the places to take your bulky household and garden waste. The locations of the sites can be found on their website - follow the link at the foot of this page.

Recycling for commercial/trade waste

Household Waste Recycling Centres are not available for use by trade or commercial operators. Anyone being paid to dispose of waste must take it to a licensed waste disposal site. Please phone the Environment Agency (Waste Regulation) on 01473 727712.

Smoking bonfireBonfire do's & dont's

If you decide to have a bonfire, kindly note these recommendations:

  • DO NOT burn damp grass clippings or 'green' material as this creates thick smoke.
  • DO NOT burn any oily rags, rubber, plastics, damp garden waste or other materials which would inevitably create heavy smoke or toxic fumes.
  • DO NOT light a bonfire when your neighbours have washing drying, or are out enjoying their gardens or have windows wide open.
  • DO NOT light bonfires one hour before dusk, or leave them burning overnight. Choose the time of day and weather conditions that will cause the least inconvenience to neighbours.
  • DO NOT leave your fire to smoulder for long periods. Never leave a fire unattended. Hose it down until cold before you leave.
  • DO Advise your nearest neighbours before you light a bonfire so they can be prepared for any minor inconvenience that may arise.
  • DO Burn material quickly in small quantities so the minimum amount of smoke is created. An incinerator makes this much easier.
  • DO Choose your bonfire site carefully, well away from trees, fences and windows. Beware of attempting bonfires on very windy days as it can so easily get out of control. Have a hose-pipe and buckets of water handy just in case.
  • The ashes, when cold, can be raked into the soil as a useful fertiliser. Small pieces of charcoal can be included, but larger pieces should be picked out first.

Related pages on this website

External links

Norfolk County Council: household waste recycling centres
Details of what you can and can't recycle at the household waste recycling centres, plus location maps and opening times for the centres in Norfolk.

About links to other websites.

Contact us

contact officer/team: Environmental Support Officer
web: online enquiry form
freephone: 0808 168 4444
telephone: 01508 533830
minicom/textphone: 01508 533622
address: South Norfolk Council
South Norfolk House
Cygnet Court
Long Stratton
Norwich NR15 2XE

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Last updated on: 28 October 2014