Smoke nuisance

Smoke nuisance from bonfires

Having a garden bonfire almost anywhere in the Horsham District is likely to be seen as anti-social by many residents. Horsham District does not have any smoke free areas or bylaws with restrictions on bonfires.

However, Horsham District Council strongly advises against having garden bonfires. Not only are they anti-social, but they are also not the best environmental option, and produce pollutants that are damaging to your health. There are always more responsible alternatives than burning garden waste.

If a person has bonfires on a regular basis, then we may be able to help.

What's wrong with a bonfire?

  • It can cause a nuisance to neighbours from smoke and smells. Each year the Council's Public Health and Licensing Department has to deal with over 100 complaints about garden bonfires
  • Garden bonfires create dioxins and other toxic pollutants
  • Smoke and smells from bonfires can aggravate respiratory problems such as asthma and bronchitis and affect those with heart complaints
  • Fires can spread from garden bonfires to fences, trees and property
  • Bonfires produce carbon dioxide, a major contributor to global warming
  • Animals often take shelter in piles of garden waste, such as prepared bonfires

Report nuisance from regular domestic bonfires

It is an offence to cause a statutory nuisance from regular domestic bonfires. Persistent offenders could be prosecuted by the Council and be fined up to £5000.

You can report regular domestic bonfires as a Statutory Nuisance. A Statutory Nuisance is an 'Unreasonable interference with the enjoyment of your property'. It must occur regularly and must continue for a time which makes it 'unreasonable'.

In order to enable investigation of this matter, we have to prove regularity, so we require you to keep a written record of the problem for a period of up to three months.

If you want to report a nuisance from a neighbour's bonfire, please contact us:

  • Email
  • or call us on 01403 215641
  • or write to Environmental Health and Licensing, Parkside, Chart Way, Horsham, West Sussex,RH12 1RL

You must include details of the source of the smoke, how long it has been going on for, how it has affected you, and your name and contact details.

How to get rid of your rubbish

Rather than burning your rubbish in a bonfire, use the following options to dispose of it:

Bonfires on commercial sites

Open burning on commercial sites is generally prohibited by Waste Management Licensing Regulations 1994, enforced by the Environment Agency. However, the burning of clean wood on demolition sites is exempt from licensing, provided the wood is produced as a result of demolition work and is burned on the land where it is produced. There is a similar exemption for tree waste from landscape maintenance.

However, if such burning is causing a statutory smoke nuisance to local residents, we can take action to ensure the nuisance is abated. If you would like to report an issue with bonfires on commercial property, please use our online contact form or call 01403 215641.

Dark smoke from industrial premises

Under the Clean Air Act 1993, it is an offence to cause or permit emissions of dark smoke from industrial or trade premises (includes building and demolition). Burning can be deemed to have taken place (without witnessing a bonfire) if the materials that have been burnt on the premises are likely to give rise to dark smoke, e.g. tyres, plastic, paint, etc. Cable burning is also a specific offence unless authorised.