Garden bonfires

The Council’s Environmental Health Team does not encourage householders to light bonfires because the smoke can cause nuisance to neighbours. However, when properly controlled, a bonfire may be used to burn garden (plant) waste and untreated wood. In order to reduce the likelihood of nuisance we advise the following;

  • Compost as much garden rubbish as possible or take to the Recycling Centre or book a Green Waste Collection
  • Burn only when there is no reasonable alternative method of disposal
  • Ensure that the material is as clean and dry as possible
  • Always site a bonfire as far as possible away from any house, including your own
  • Check that the wind direction is such that smoke will not be blown into neighbouring houses
  • Warn neighbours when you will be having a bonfire
  • Burn the material in small quantities at a time, under constant supervision
  • Never burn man made materials, plastics, natural or synthetic rubbers or chemicals as these can produce toxic and damaging products of combustion.

Please note: bonfires are not permitted on any allotments in Harlow

For more information on bonfires please visit:

Report nuisance bonfires

Where bonfires give rise to nuisance, the Council may take enforcement action against the person or land owner responsible for causing the nuisance. Enforcement action may include service of notice and prosecution.

If you are significantly affected by bonfire smoke please contact an Advisor at Contact Harlow. It would be helpful if you would provide the following details;

  • Precise location of the bonfire
  • Person or persons responsible for the fire (if known)
  • Whether plastic or other synthetic materials are being burnt
  • Time and duration
  • One off or regular event.

The Council will make a record of your complaint and act in accordance with the General Enforcement Policy for Environmental Health (under downloads).