Bonfires or Smoke Nuisance

Bonfires or Smoke Nuisance  

There is no by-law in this District which states when you can have a bonfire and we have no smoke control areas. Although bonfires are not banned they should be avoided as the ash, smoke and odour they produce are common causes of complaints. 

Bonfires – Alternatives 

Bonfires are often seen as an easy way of disposing of garden waste but they are not environmentally friendly. 

  • You should try and make full use of the civic amenity sites in the area that take green waste. Details of the local facilities can be found on the Cambridgeshire County Council and Suffolk County Council websites. 

  • The council provides a green bin collection service which allows you to dispose of garden waste without the need for burning. 

  • Composting is a natural alternative to burning which reduces the amount of waste sent to landfill and is a cost effective way of improving your soil fertility. Visit our composting web page for further advice.  

How can I avoid causing a nuisance? 

You should only have a fire when absolutely necessary but if you must have a fire there are Dos and Don’ts which can help you to avoid causing a nuisance. 


  • Do make your neighbours aware that you intend to have a fire. This gives them the opportunity to close windows and take in washing. 

  • Do choose the location carefully. Make sure it is away from trees, fences and buildings. 

  • Do think about the wind direction and where the smoke is likely to go. 

  • Do avoid lighting a fire during unsuitable weather conditions. Smoke will hang in the air on damp still days but can blow across gardens and roads if it is too windy. 


  • Don’t burn damp garden waste as this will produce thick smoke. 

  • Don’t burn plastics, rubber, foam, car tyres, etc as this will produce toxic black smoke.   

  • Don’t allow the fire to smoulder overnight. Rake over the ashes to make sure it is fully extinguished.   

Statutory Nuisance 

Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (EPA) it is an offence to cause a statutory nuisance. To be considered a statutory nuisance a bonfire would usually have to be a regular problem and interfering substantially with the wellbeing, comfort or enjoyment of your property. 

If you wish to make a complaint about a bonfire, please complete our report form below: 

For more information, please contact the Environmental Health Team by telephone on 01353 665555, or by emailing East Cambs District Council Customer Services