Skip to content

Smoke control

There are no formal Smoke Control Zones in the Stroud District.

Garden bonfires have been a traditional way of disposing of garden rubbish but they often cause a nuisance to neighbours from smoke, smell or dirt. They also contribute to air pollution. As a means of disposal, bonfires are becoming less and less acceptable. This section aims to encourage householders to give up bonfires and to suggest some alternatives.

The problems

  • Bonfires can be very annoying to neighbours - usually from smoke or smell. This can stop them from enjoying their garden, prevent them from opening their windows, or hanging out washing. This is especially a problem if your neighbour or their children are asthmatic or have a chest condition.
  • Bonfires cause air pollution. They can produce irritating and even poisonous compounds that contribute to poor air quality, which everyone nearby then has to breathe in.
  • Bonfire smoke can also cause a hazard to road users by reducing visibility.
  • Bonfires can cause a fire hazard if they are close to trees or fences and especially if left unattended.

What's the legal position?

There are no specific laws that prohibit garden bonfires, nor any which restrict them to certain hours of the day, days of the week or number per year. Therefore it is not "alright" to have bonfires as long as it's after 6:00 p.m. In fact, in the evening smoke will hang around for even longer due to inversion effects.

If, however, a garden bonfire causes what is called a "statutory nuisance", the Council can serve a legal notice on the person responsible requiring them to stop causing the nuisance. Failure to do so is then an offence for which they can be prosecuted. Under the same legislation any person affected by a bonfire can also lodge a complaint at the Magistrates Court alleging nuisance, which will then be dealt with by the court. If it is found that a nuisance did exist the person responsible can be fined by the court.

If after having carefully considered the alternatives you still decide to have a bonfire, there are some guidelines that will help to ensure that you don't cause a nuisance:

  • Only ever burn dry material
  • Never burn household rubbish or anything with plastic, foam, paint, or rubber in it
  • Never use old engine oil, methylated spirits, diesel or petrol to light or encourage a fire. Not only does this make smoke, it is also very dangerous
  • Avoid lighting fires in unsuitable weather conditions such as damp, still days
  • Avoid times when the wind will blow smoke over roads or into neighbour's gardens
  • Avoid burning when people want to enjoy their gardens such as at weekends or Bank Holidays
  • Air Pollution is described using ten index points, between LOW and VERY HIGH. Avoid burning when air pollution in the area is anything other than Low. You can check this at the DEFRA Air Information Resource at provides daily forecast levels of air pollution
  • Never leave a fire unattended or leave it to smoulder
  • Bear in mind the law of statutory nuisance mentioned above; regular smoky bonfires - or even a single one which is very polluting - could be regarded as a statutory nuisance and result in a legal notice being served on you by the Council

Take it to the tip

You can take your garden rubbish to one of the Gloucestershire County Council Household Recycling Centres. These are located at:
Pyke Quarry (Horsley)
This is two miles west of Horsley on the B4058, Wotton-under-Edge road.
Hempsted, (Gloucester)
This is one mile from Gloucester Docks along Llanthony Road then Hempsted Lane. Turn right just before the roundabout (signposted) when travelling towards Hempsted

The Centres are managed by Gloucestershire County Council. See for details and opening times.

2. Get it Collected

Residents may be able to subscribe to our fortnightly Garden waste collection service. Residents will receive a brown wheelie bin and a licence. For more information, please visit our website

3. Compost your garden and household waste

Some garden waste and household waste is suitable for composting. Further information about home composting can be found on

Last reviewed: