Bonfire Law by He Is Legend


Every year Ealing Council receives a number of
complaints about bonfires causing a nuisance.
Many of these complaints could be avoided
if some simple steps are first taken and
consideration shown to neighbours. This leaflet
explains the law about bonfires and gives some
suggestions to prevent them from becoming a

What the law says about bonfires
The Environmental Protection Act 1990 allows
local councils:
• to take offenders to court should their
   bonfires cause a nuisance to neighbours,
   such as have an unreasonable effect on their
   enjoyment of their home or garden;
• to take action if a bonfire on trade premises
   causes dark smoke. This is an offence,
   regardless of whether anybody else is
   affected, under section 2 of the ‘Clean Air
   Act 1993’; and,
• to fine up to £20,000 for each offence.
   Anyone complaining to the council will likely
   be asked to keep a diary of events to assist
   officers investigating the matter.

Do’s and don’ts
Should you decide to have a bonfire:
• 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
• DO NOT light a bonfire when your
  neighbours have washing out to dry, are
  enjoying their gardens or have windows wide
• DO NOT leave your fire to smoulder for long
  periods and never leave it unattended. Hose
  it down until the bonfire is ‘cold’ before you
  leave it.
• DO light your bonfire at an appropriate time
  of day with weather conditions that will
  mean the bonfire causes the least
  inconvenience to your neighbours.
• DO advise your nearest neighbours before
  you light a bonfire.
• DO burn material quickly in small quantities so
  that a minimum amount of smoke is created.
• DO choose your bonfire site carefully, well
  away from trees, fences and windows.
  Beware of attempting bonfires on very windy
  days as they can easily get out of control.
  Have a hosepipe or buckets of water handy,
  just in case.
• DO rake the ashes when cold into the soil as
  a useful fertiliser. Small pieces of charcoal
  can be included, but larger pieces should be
  picked out first.

And finally, even before you start a
bonfire, consider whether the waste can
be composted instead. Composting is much
more environmentally friendly.

If you have not got a compost bin, then contact
Ealing Council on 020 8825 6000 for
information on how to get one.

You can also dispose of your compost at the
re-use and recycling centre at Greenford Depot,
Greenford Road, Greenford.

To make a complaint about a bonfire, contact
Ealing Council’s environmental health
department on: 020 8825 9654.
                     If English is not your first language we can
                  organise to translate parts of this leaflet for you.

                  Produced by:
                  Environmental Health and Trading Standards
                  Ealing Council
                  Perceval House
                  14-16 Uxbridge Road
                  London W5 2HL

                  Tel: (020) 8825 9654
                  Fax: (020) 8825 6661

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