There are no laws against having a bonfire, but there are laws against the nuisance they can cause. Smoke or the smell of smoke from bonfires can cause a statutory nuisance.
You can’t get rid of household waste in a way that will cause pollution or harm to people’s health. This includes burning it.
There are better ways of dealing with waste that don’t affect air quality:
- garden waste can be dealt with by composting, after a few months it will turn into an excellent fertiliser
- we can also collect garden waste and bulky items or you can take it to your local tip or recycling centre
If you would still like to have a bonfire:
- only burn dry material
- warn your neighbours if you are going to have a bonfire - they are less likely to complain
- never burn household rubbish, rubber, or anything containing plastic, foam or paint
- never use old engine oil, methylated spirits or petrol to light the fire or encourage it
- avoid lighting a fire in unsuitable weather conditions - smoke hangs in the air on damp, still days and in the evening - if it's windy, smoke may be blown into neighbours' gardens and across roads
- do not leave a fire unattended, even when it’s just smouldering
Bonfires are not permitted on any allotments in Harlow
Report nuisance bonfires
If a neighbour’s bonfire is causing a nuisance, we can issue an ‘abatement notice’.
If you are significantly affected by bonfire smoke please contact an Advisor at Contact Harlow.
You will need to provide details of:
- the precise location
- the person responsible (if known)
- whether plastic or other synthetic materials are being burnt
- the time and duration
- whether it’s a one-off or regular event