Bonfires, dust and odours

Bonfires are allowed in the Wycombe district. However, the smoke and smell caused by bonfires can cause a nuisance to neighbours, so please act considerately.

Bonfires and the law

It is a common misconception that there are specific byelaw's prohibiting the lighting or timing of bonfires within the district. There is no outright bonfire ban. This includes areas that lie within the smoke control area.

The Environmental Protection Act (EPA) 1990 deals with bonfires in relation to statutory nuisances only. Persistent or particularly large bonfires may cause a nuisance.

Report a smoke/bonfire problem

  • Use the Smoke record form [PDF | 71KB] to record smoke problems including bonfires. Send the completed diary to our Environmental Health team

Bonfires and pollution

The burning of garden waste leads to the production and release of smoke containing pollutants such as carbon monoxide and particulates. The burning of man-made materials can not only lead to unpleasant odours but also the release of a cocktail of potentially poisonous chemicals into the air.

Alternatives to bonfires

Given the negative implications for air quality and health caused by garden bonfires, why have one at all when there are many environmentally friendly alternatives:

Bonfires dos and don'ts

  • Don't leave any fire unattended
  • Don't burn damp green waste as this produces thick smoke
  • Don't burn any man-made material waste such as plastics or rubber as this may create heavy toxic smoke
  • Don't light a bonfire when your neighbours have windows open, washing out or are spending time in their garden.
  • Do leave your bonfire until weather conditions are favourable. For example when the wind is blowing away from neighbouring properties
  • Do consult your neighbours so they are prepared for any minor inconveniences
  • Do choose the site for your bonfire carefully, away from trees, fences and if possible nearby residences
  • Do burn in small quantities, quickly in order to minimise the volume of smoke.

Dust

The generation of dust can result from a number of activities but is often related to building sites. Fine dusts such as particulate matter (PM10 or less) have known health effects but all dusts can be considered a nuisance.

Dust complaints are investigated by us under the EPA 1990 and should the dust be found to amount to a statutory nuisance then we can take action to stop this nuisance.

Odour

Odour can be defined as a smell that is detectable and can be generated from a variety of sources. There is no specific law about odour or defining a limit on what level of odour is unacceptable, but it is investigated under the EPA 1990 with regards to statutory nuisance.

Report an odour problem

  • Use the Odour record form [PDF | 71KB] form to record odour problems; send the completed diary to our Environmental Health team

Contact information

  • Telephone: 01494 412 247