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.

For more information on the rules around bonfires, look at GOV.UK

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 waste or you can take it to the dump

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 us. 

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

Contact information

Environmental Health
Harlow Council
Civic Centre
The Water Gardens
College Square
Harlow CM20 1WG
01279 446111