Air pollution complaints

Pollution from road traffic is not regulated by ourselves, although we have duties under air quality regulations to monitor it and implement strategies to deal with it.

Garden bonfires

Bonfires can be a nuisance - the smoke, soot and smells they cause are the subject of many complaints. Smoke can ruin residents' enjoyment of their property, preventing them from opening windows, hanging washing out and can prevent them enjoying being in their own garden.

If done carefully, the occasional bonfire should not cause a major problem, so an outright ban on bonfires would be unreasonable. However, under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, it is an offence to cause a statutory nuisance, and this can include nuisances created by regular bonfires.

Defra have produced some useful guidance on outdoor burning. The aim of the guidance is to highlight the air quality impact of outdoor burning and to help reduce emissions from it. It also supports reducing the risk of wildfires. 

Instead of burning

Rather than burn garden waste, we recommend more environmentally friendly ways of disposal, such as recycling, composting or shredding.

If you must burn

If you must burn, the following advice may help you to prevent causing a nuisance to neighbours:

  • Only burn dry material, wet fires produce more smoke
  • Keep fires small and controllable
  • Never burn household rubbish, rubber tyres or anything containing plastic, foam or paint
  • Avoid lighting a fire in unsuitable weather conditions – smoke hangs in the air on damp, still days. If it is too windy, smoke blows into neighbours' gardens and windows and across roads
  • Avoid burning when air pollution levels in your area are high or very high. 
  • Keep your fire away from trees, fences and buildings
  • Never use oil, petrol or methylated spirits to light a fire – you could damage yourself as well as the environment
  • Never leave a fire unattended or leave it to smolder – put it out

Making a complaint

You may wish to approach your neighbours if you are bothered by persistent bonfire smoke. They may be genuinely unaware that their actions are affecting you.

We are aware that it's not always practical or possible, for whatever reason, to speak to your neighbour or you may have tried this approach and it hasn't worked. In this instance we recommend you contact the team to request an investigation. You will need to know the location of the bonfire.

Request a formal investigation into an alleged nuisance

To find out how we use your information see our privacy notice (opens in a new window).

Muck spreading

We are unable to deal with complaints about the smell of spreading manure (muck spreading) on land. We may get involved if the smell carries on for long periods of time or smells stronger than expected.

The spreading of sewage sludge (bio solids) is lawful and deemed the best environmental option for use of treated sewage sludge. There may be an odour, for short spells of time, while the sludge is moved, stored or spread onto fields.

The smell can be offensive but does not a create a statutory odour nuisance taking into account all other factors.

We understand that muck spreading can be odorous often coinciding with finer weather. However, it is nationally recognised that this practice is necessary in a controlled way, part of these controls prevent spreading at certain times and certain conditions, both weather and land. This restricts the spreading window.

Farmers are asked to follow best practice when spreading muck on their fields.

Due to the nitrogen controls it is unlikely that the field will be spread again in the near future.

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Page last reviewed: 28 May 2024