Smoke and bonfires


Smoke and bonfires


We have powers to deal with smoke nuisance from any bonfire and for dark smoke offences on commercial and industrial premises.

For a bonfire to be a legal nuisance we would consider:

  • how much smoke is being created and if it affects nearby properties
  • what is being burnt - the type of material being burned affects how much smoke is being produced and how noxious the fumes from the smoke are
  • how often the bonfires occur - a single bonfire is unlikely to be a nuisance even though it may cause annoyance to one or more neighbours

If a bonfire gets out of hand and becomes dangerous call 999 and ask for the Fire Service immediately.


If a bonfire is needed then please follow the guidelines:

  • warn neighbours in advance
  • locate your bonfire as far away from neighbouring properties (and fences) as possible
  • consider the wind and the direction it's blowing in
  • avoid burning when people are likely to want to enjoy their gardens, weekends and early evenings for example, or when they're drying clothes
  • never leave your bonfire unattended and make sure you can extinguish it if needed
  • only burn dry materials and never burn old tyres, foam, painted or other treated wood such as MDF, chipboard or any kind of plastic

Barbecues, chimeneas and fire pits

We would be deal with issues from these in the same way as smoke from bonfires, so you can report problems in the same way.

Dark smoke

It is an offence to cause or permit dark smoke from a chimney or flue at an industrial or trade premises. This also applies to burning materials on a site that you own or a site where you are working such as a building or demolition site, or land used for commercial agriculture or horticulture.

It is not necessary for us to have witnessed the emissions of dark smoke to take action against you so long as we have evidence of it.

Dark smoke offences do not apply to domestic premises 'except where trade or industrial waste is burnt'. But we all have a duty of care to ensure our waste is disposed of properly.


As these are legal complaints, we cannot accept them anonymously and we will ask for your details. We will not divulge your details to the person you're complaining about.

Select your local area for more information:

If your area isn't listed, you may be a resident of West Northamptonshire.

Last updated 03 January 2024