Nuisance - wood-burning stoves and open fires

What do I need to be aware of under the law?

Local Councils are legally obliged to investigate any complaints made under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 relating to public health and nuisance issues, which include smoke and fumes from fires or stoves.

In cases where our evidence shows that smoke or fumes are causing significant interference with another person’s use and enjoyment of their property we can serve a legal notice on the person(s) responsible for the nuisance, requiring action to be taken to stop the problem or face prosecution for non-compliance. With this in mind, it is important to prevent smoke problems to neighbours by proper installation, use of correct fuel and careful operation of the stove.

Incorrectly installed stoves and flues can lead to fires or dangerous gases entering the house potentially leading to carbon monoxide poisoning or death. It is therefore in your own interest as well as your neighbours to ensure the correct installation.

The installation of wood-burning or multi-fuel stoves is work that is controlled under the Building Regulations. You should ensure that your fitter is appropriately accredited (contact Building Control for up to date information) or contact our Building Control Section with full details before installing appliances or carrying out work to flues or chimneys.

Clean air

The rise in the use of open fires and wood-burning stoves has led to an increase in smoke from chimneys. DEFRA have provided A Practical Guide to Open Fires and wood-burning stoves Open Fires and Wood Burning Stoves Practical Guidance (PDF Document, 228.61 Kb)

The Council operates a smokeless zone area please see the smoke control page for details of the area and list of affected streets. The fine for burning unauthorised fuels and creating smoke in the designated areas breaching the order carries a fine of £1000

Garden bonfires

Every year we get a large number of complaints about bonfires causing a nuisance to our residents.

We have the power to take formal action if bonfires cause a serious nuisance to neighbours.

There are no byelaws that either prevent people from having occasional garden bonfires or specific times when they can be lit, but there are a few alternatives which are safer and have less of an impact to the environment. These are:

  • Use our garden waste service
  • Composting (or burying) soft garden waste such as grass cutting
  • Hire a skip from a private contractor for large amounts of waste
  • Unfortunately due to the current pandemic, the household waste sites are shut and the Council has suspended its bulky item collection service

Should you decide to start a bonfire at your home, please take notice of the information on this page and the recommendations outlined below:

  • Telling neighbours you are having a bonfire and you will do your best to minimise smoke and finish burning quickly
  • Choosing a site where least nuisance will be caused to neighbours, not just yourself
  • Not lighting the bonfire if any residents have washing out to dry
  • Not burning at weekends, bank holidays or sunny days when people are outside enjoying their gardens

Excessive smoke and pollution can be avoided by:

  • Making sure the material is as dry as possible. Damp material, including ‘green’ garden waste, particularly conifer cuttings, will cause a lot of smoke
  • Not lighting the bonfire with petrol or diesel
  • Not burning plastics, foam, rubber or material contaminated with oil
  • Not burning timber contaminated with creosote or other flammable preservatives
  • Not burning painted timber



This page summarises the use of fireworks and the problems they can cause. It includes a link to the law regulating firework use. It gives the times during which fireworks may be used. It links to further information about how to use fireworks safely and protecting animals from the dangers of fireworks.

Fireworks are often used to help celebrate public and private events, including a number of traditional occasions.

Although fireworks are intended as a source of excitement and enjoyment, they can also disturb and frighten animals and some people.

To help provide a balance in the use of fireworks, legal controls were introduced by The Fireworks Regulations 2004.

These controls make it an offence to possess fireworks in public if you are under 18 and to throw or set off fireworks in the street.

They also prohibit the use of fireworks between 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. with exceptions for the following occasions:

  • 5th November - until midnight
  • New Year's Eve - until 1:00 a.m. on the following day
  • Chinese New Year - until 1:00 a.m. on the following day
  • Diwali - until 1:00 a.m. on the following day

These regulations are enforced by the police.

Follow these links for more information about firework safety and how to enjoy fireworks safely.

Always remember that special care should be taken with animals and pets whenever fireworks are expected to be used. For advice about protecting animals and pets from fireworks visit the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Last updated: Friday, 14 June 2024 1:35 pm