BonfiresReport Nuisance Bonfires
Hastings Borough Council discourages the burning of household and garden waste. Bonfires can be anti-social, cause air pollution and affect people with heart conditions, asthma or bronchitis.
Burning plastic, rubber or painted materials creates noxious fumes that can give off a range of poisonous compounds. Smoke and ash from bonfires can cause annoyance for your neighbours and prevent them from using their garden, hanging out washing or opening windows.
Fire Service Warning Over Burning of Domestic Waste
East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service would like to offer advice to residents due to an increase in incidents involving garden bonfires, which are getting out of control.
This increase is believed to be a result of the closure of household waste recycling centres, until further notice, caused by the current challenges with Covid-19.
Social distancing measures, put in place by the Government, mean that visits to these household waste recycling sites do not fall within the reasons for leaving your home.
The Service requests that residents refrain from garden bonfires, due to the increased fire risk that this creates.
Additionally, garden fires cause both a nuisance to neighbours and other member of the public. With large numbers of residents remaining inside their homes self-isolating it is important that we can all get clean fresh air into our homes.
Whilst there are no laws against having a bonfire, there are laws for the nuisance they can cause.
Household waste should not be burned at all; if you do you might be committing an offence and could face prosecution. Further guidance is available.
A more responsible approach would be to compost or recycle your garden waste when local recycling centres re-open. These are not only safer options, prevent a potential offence being committed, but also better for the environment and for the more vulnerable members of our communities who are self-isolating at home during the Covid-19 outbreak.
You can report nuisance bonfires using our online form at the top of the page.
There are no specific byelaws prohibiting garden bonfires or the times at which they can be lit, however under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 smoke and ash from bonfires that affects your neighbours can be classed as a statutory nuisance.
See our Statutory Nuisance page for more information.
Depending on the severity, frequency and number of residents making complaints about a bonfire a council officer or Street Warden may visit to witness and offer advice. We may also write to the owner or occupier of the land informing them of the complaint and their responsibilities.
Where the council is satisfied that a statutory nuisance exists then formal action in the form of an abatement notice may be taken. If the situation persists it could lead to prosecution with a fine of up to £5,000, if found guilty.
Industrial or commercial waste emitting black smoke is dealt with separately under the Clean Air Act 1993.
Do's and Don'ts
If you are considering having a bonfire, it's a good idea to speak to neighbours about it first, as the smoke and fumes from a bonfire can be annoying.
You should not burn any waste that is likely to create excessive smoke or noxious fumes and it is illegal to dispose of waste not from your property, either from your workplace or from a neighbour.
If you have a large amount of garden waste to burn and you are considering doing so over several days you should be aware that one of the measurements for identifying a statutory nuisance is frequency and if complaints are received by the council we may be required to take action as outlined previously.
The council operates a garden waste collection service which may be beneficial if you have large quantities of garden waste. View more information on the council's garden waste collection service.
Alternatively, Hastings residents can utilise the services of the Hastings household waste and recycling site off of Bexhill Road to dispose of various types of waste including green garden waste.
How do I complain?
If you are bothered by smoke from a bonfire it might be advisable to approach your neighbour, as they may not be aware of the problems they are causing. If this fails the Environmental Health team should be notified. You should also inform us immediately if a neighbour or business is burning plastic, rubber or painted materials.
You can report a nuisance bonfire by completing our online form.
Smoke from a bonfire that is allowed to drift across a road can lead to a fine under section 161A of the Highways Act 1980, if it endangers traffic or causes injury. You should contact the Police by email or on 101 if this is the case.