Noise and nuisance
Smoke from garden bonfires, log burners, multi-fuel appliances, industrial trade premises and those who wrongly burn their waste can cause a nuisance, especially when it prevents people from being able to open their windows, hang out washing or use and enjoy outdoor spaces.
We have no specific by-laws that prohibit burning. Even though bonfires are not banned, they should be avoided to prevent smoke and pollutants. There are currently no smoke control areas within the Harborough district.
Action can be taken by the council under Section 79 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 where smoke from bonfires is deemed to be a statutory nuisance. To establish a statutory nuisance, a bonfire would usually have to be a regular problem and interfering substantially with a person’s wellbeing, comfort, and/or enjoyment of their property.
‘One off’ fires that are very large, produce excessive amounts of smoke, and are left to burn for long periods of time may also be considered a statutory nuisance, if they cause a significant adverse impact to neighbouring properties.
If you believe a fire is out of control and dangerous, please call the Fire and Rescue Service immediately on 999.
A ‘commercial bonfire’ is a term used to describe a bonfire taking place on the site of a commercial premises or the burning of trade waste. Under sections 33 and 34 of The Environmental Protection Act 1990 all businesses have a duty of care to ensure that their waste is disposed of correctly and must be collected by registered waste carriers.
It is also an offence to store or dispose of waste (including burning) trade waste without an Environmental Permit or registered exemption or in a manner likely to cause pollution of the environment or harm to human health.
Complaints of this nature should be reported to the Environment Agency directly. However, the council are still able to investigate smoke nuisance and therefore you can still report issues with smoke nuisance to the council using the nuisance reporting form at the bottom of this page.
Advice if you're having a bonfire or BBQ
- Only burn dry material
- Never burn household rubbish, rubber tyres or anything containing plastic, foam or paint
- Never use old engine oil, meths or petrol to light the fire or encourage it
- Avoid lighting a fire in unsuitable weather conditions - smoke hangs in the air on damp, still days and in the evening. If it is windy, smoke may be blown into neighbours' gardens and across roads
- Avoid burning at weekends and on bank holidays when people want to enjoy their gardens
- Avoid burning when air pollution in your area is high or very high. This information is included in weather forecasts or you can check the air pollution forecast map (uk-air.defra.gov.uk)
- Never leave a fire unattended or leave it to smoulder; douse it with water if necessary
Barbecues can also cause a smoke nuisance, especially if you use lighter fuel. Please be considerate. If you are having a barbecue tell your neighbours; check with them - they may wish to close their windows or bring their washing in.
Nuisance legislation may also be used to deal with smoke coming from domestic chimneys.
For guidance on using your open fire or wood burning stove more efficiently and to help reduce your maintenance costs download open fires and wood burning stoves - a practical guide (PDF)
How to have a safe bonfire and firework display
If you are organising a bonfire party with fireworks, then we have some good tips for you from the Department for Communities and Local Government, to help you plan and prepare for a fun and safe celebration. Download the celebrating with bonfires and fireworks community guide