In short: It’s not illegal to have a garden bonfire but there are laws against the nuisance they can cause. It is, however, a criminal offence to burn household waste that will cause pollution or harm to human health.
If you’re going to have a bonfire DO NOT leave the fire unattended. Every year West Midlands Fire Service attends to hundreds of calls costing taxpayers thousands because fires are left unattended and burn out of control. Even if you think the fire is out, embers will still be hot enough to burn anything that lands/falls on the area.
Keep a bucket of water or sand nearby and if you’ve got one handy a hosepipe pipe too. If a fire gets out of control, seconds count to be prepared even if you’re having a small fire.
Can I burn household waste?
You can’t burn household/domestic waste in your garden. Burning household waste can cause pollution and release toxic chemicals into the air, it can also be a nuisance to your neighbours. Domestic waste can be anything from the takeaway containers from last nights Chinese or the tyres from the push bike you only rode once or even the treated wood from your children’s wendy house they last used four summers ago.
The law: It is a criminal offence, under section 79, part 3 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to dispose of domestic waste in a manner which is likely to cause pollution or harm to human health.
I live near a busy road, can I still have a bonfire?
Having a fire isn’t the problem the smoke is. If there is a large amount of smoke and it drifts across ANY road and causes a danger to traffic you could be fined.
Can I burn green waste from my garden?
Yes, there are no laws against having a bonfire, but there are laws for the nuisance they can cause. If you’re going to have a bonfire then its important to ensure that what is going to be burnt is clean garden waste only, and preferably dry so as to avoid excess smoke.
The council’s stance on garden bonfires
Although it is not illegal to have a garden bonfire, there are laws against the nuisance they cause which can result in fines of up to £5,000. They prefer residents not to have bonfires in their gardens as the risk of nuisance is high and also the fire may get out of control.
Ideally, garden waste should be disposed of at one of the councils household recycling centres (tips) or by subscribing to their Garden Waste Collection Service.
How can I report air pollution?
You can report three types of air pollution: Smoke from bonfires and chimneys, Emissions, eg dust, gases, etc, arising from commercial or industrial premises and Smoke and dust arising from construction or demolition sites. This can be done via the council’s website: www.birmingham.gov.uk/bonfires