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There are no specific bylaws that prohibit garden bonfires or specify times they can be lit. However, this does not mean that burning should be used as a regular means of disposing of waste. Burning of waste, even garden waste, releases smoke and fumes which can cause a nuisance to your neighbours and in certain cases can affect health adversely.

Complaints regarding the regular burning of waste are dealt with under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 as a statutory nuisance. 

Defining such a nuisance isn't straightforward, but the problem would have to be:

  • Persistent; and
  • Interfere substantially with your well-being, comfort or enjoyment of your property.

The occasional bonfire may not cause a problem. However, where a neighbour is persistently burning rubbish in a way that adversely affects you, then the council may be able to take legal action.

Environmental Protection UK has published guidelines for bonfires. They also provide general information on garden bonfire problems and alternatives to bonfires.

Bonfires on Commercial Land

In all but a few rare cases, it is an offence to burn waste materials on commercial land. If you are affected by smoke or notice burning of waste on land occupied by businesses, you should report this to us. In certain cases and for certain kinds of business, officers may refer complaints for investigation to the Environment Agency, as the proper enforcing authority - officers will advise you if this is necessary.

Burning of many synthetic waste materials, plastics, rubber and treated or painted wood can release dark or black smoke - this type of smoke can have more serious implications for health and therefore is an outright offence under the Clean Air Act 1993 and should be reported to us.

Contact us on 01744 676338 or environmentalhealth@sthelens.gov.uk.