Please be considerate when thinking about a bonfire. On this page you will find some useful information about wood burning or what to do when bonfires become a nuisance.
If you have any concerns about environmental issues in your neighbourhood, our environmental health team is here to help on 01962 848097, email: EH@winchester.gov.uk, or visit: www.winchester.gov.uk/environment
The sections below contain general advice
Under the provisions of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, smoke caused by bonfires may be a statutory nuisance and the City Council has powers to take action against those who create a statutory nuisance or allow it to happen. Private individuals are also able to take their own action by complaint to a Magistrates Court.
Case law has established that the concept of nuisance considers "reasonable expectation". So in general terms the occasional small garden bonfire burning dry wood/plant material may be acceptable, whilst burning of other household materials such as painted wood, plastics, furniture, mattresses etc would not.
Bonfires which are on land near to roads and causing an inconvenience or a danger to passers-by, can also be an offence under the Highways Act 1980.
It is often believed that there are "bonfire bylaws" controlling hours when you can light bonfires; this is not the case.
What you should do?
If you have a complaint, it is best to discuss it initially with the person responsible; they may not realise they are causing a problem. Try to be reasonable, otherwise your discussions are likely to end in further argument. Explain the details of your complaint and try to agree on a reasonable solution or compromise.
If the situation does not improve, then contact the Environmental Protection Team on 01962 848097. You will be required to confirm your complaint either in writing or by the completion of log sheets. If the log sheets indicate that a statutory nuisance exists, the person responsible for the bonfires will be contacted and advised that an offence may be taking place. A copy of the logsheet is available for downloading on this page, although you are advised to discuss the problem with us first.
If the bonfires persist, and evidence suggests that the bonfires are causing a statutory nuisance, a legal notice may be served. If found guilty of further offences by the Magistrates Court, a fine of up to £5000 may be imposed.
please be considerate to neighbours when thinking about a bonfire, they can be unpleasant and harmful to health.
If you have garden waste to dispose of, try and compost as much as possible. Consider using a shredding machine, which can reduce hardwood materials into mulch for use on your garden. Or you can sign up to our garden waste collection scheme.
Hampshire County Council runs three of the district’s Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs) for those who cannot store waste safely at home. Find out more here.
Domestic wood burning
Wood burning causes harmful particulate air pollution in your home and neighbourhood. Breathing in particulate matter pollution negatively impacts the health of your family and community, affecting your lungs and heart. Can you burn less, burn cleaner, burn better and burn different?
If you are having a bonfire, please follow Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service bonfire safety advice, be aware of the impacts of air pollution and be considerate to neighbours, your community and wildlife. Only burn dry, untreated wood and no other household or garden waste, in particular avoid burning firelighters, oil rubber, plastics or any wood with varnish, paint or creosote.
This awareness campaign is a partnership with Southampton City Council, Eastleigh Borough Council, New Forest District Council, Winchester City Council and the Environment Centre (tEC) charity to help residents improve air quality for their health, their community and the environment.
- Burn less: Reduce burning where possible, keep stoves and fires for particularly cold weather unless they are your only heating source. We know that there are households in Hampshire that burn wood to keep warm, and it’s also important for your health and wellbeing to stay warm and well
- Burn cleaner: Burn cleaner fuels such as smokeless, authorised fuels or dry, well-seasoned wood with low moisture content
- Burn better: Use efficient appliances, don’t shut off air or allow the temperature to drop, and service and clean them regularly
- Burn different: If possible, switch heating source to no or low emission fuels, such as renewable, electric or gas alternatives