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Smoke and bonfires


Smoke and bonfires


A bonfire can be a convenient way of getting rid of a large amount of waste, but the smoke and smell from a bonfire can upset your neighbours, prevent them from having their windows open, using their garden or hanging their washing out.

They can also be an issue for local air quality and to human health - especially asthmatics, bronchitis sufferers, people with heart conditions, children and the elderly so please be considerate.

If a bonfire is the most practicable and environmentally friendly way to dispose of dry garden waste make sure you:

  • 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

The burning of material at industrial or commercial premises which causes dark smoke is an offence under the Clean Air Act, 1993. Please report any incidents of dark smoke to the Environmental Protection section when they occur.

Industrial or trade premises

Different legislation applies to non-domestic premises. Burning waste that produces black or dark smoke (or could produce) is likely a legal offence. Ideally, waste should be disposed of in other ways, even if it's green waste.

Large construction and demolition sites may be an Environment Agency exemption that allows the site to burn waste in a controlled manner.

Report it

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.

Why information is on a different website
We are in the process of adding information to this new unitary council website. Some pages will give you a link back to a previous council website to help you find what you need. Read more about the council changes.

Last updated 17 April 2023