Bonfires and air pollution

Domestic bonfires

bonfireBonfires are permitted in all areas of the city providing you do not cause nuisance to other people. In our densely populated city this may be difficult to achieve, and we recommend that you do not have a bonfire unless there are no other options.

Alternatives to bonfires

Simplified, the law says that no one may have a bonfire if the smoke from it will cause a nuisance to other people. If someone does cause a nuisance proceedings may be taken and the person can be fined up to £5,000. If you must have a bonfire then following these guidelines will help reduce air pollution and the impact on neighbours.

Follow our tips to reduce problem smoke and pollution from bonfires

  • Only burn dry material
  • Never burn household rubbish, rubber tyres or anything containing plastic, foam or paint 
  • Never use old engine oil, methylated spirits or petrol to light or encourage the fire 
  • 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 neighbouring gardens and across roads
  • Avoid burning at weekends and on bank holidays when people want to enjoy their gardens
  • Where possible inform neighbours of your intention to have a fire. This will give them the opportunity to shut windows, bring in washing, etc
  • Never leave a fire unattended or leave it to smoulder
  • If you're bothered by smoke from a bonfire then approach your neighbour to highlight the problem, as they may be unaware of the problems they are causing.

Making a complaint about a bonfire

If you're bothered by smoke then approach your neighbour to highlight the problem, they may be unaware as to the distress they are causing. If this fails, contact the Environmental Health and Licensing department who can investigate the complaint under the Environmental Protection Act 1990. 

Commercial bonfires

bonfireUnder the duty of care provisions contained within the Environmental Protection Act 1990, the Environment Agency permits only the burning of green waste which has been produced on site and no other materials. However, Brighton & Hove City Council can take enforcement action on any commercial/industrial operations if they cause a statutory smoke nuisance. This action can result in a fine of up to £20,000. 

Bonfire and firework safety

Find out more about bonfire and firework safety.

Go to our page on smoke control areas and the clean air act for more information on these topics.