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Information from the London Borough of Sutton

Neighbourhood nuisance

Garden bonfires and barbeques

COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

In light of the current COVID-19 (coronavirus) situation, we urge residents across the borough to not light bonfires at this time.

The polluting effect of low level smoke is considerable, particularly in built up areas and bonfire smoke contains pollutants that can have damaging health effects. 

If you are experiencing problems with bonfires during this time, please report the problem using the link at the bottom of the page (make a neighbourhood nuisance enquiry here).

It is important to be especially considerate to your neighbours at this time, when people are staying at home, please play your part in keeping the community safe.


We receive more complaints about bonfires than any other form of air pollution. The polluting effect of low level smoke is considerable, particularly in built up areas and bonfire smoke contains pollutants that can have damaging health effects. Bonfires often cause discomfort, inconvenience and bad feeling between neighbours.

  • any bonfire is a potential safety risk and can spread to fences and garden buildings
  • also, piles of garden waste are often used as a refuge by animals, especially hedgehogs

It is seldom necessary to light a bonfire, and garden waste can be disposed of in various ways.  If you need to dispose of garden or other waste we encourage you to use sustainable methods such as:

  • composting
  • shredding and recycling 

We are able to take formal action under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 when burning of garden waste is a regular occurrence and a statutory nuisance is caused. If we take action against you, you could be liable for a fine of up to £5,000.

Barbeques can easily cause annoyance through smoke and cooking smells so think of your neighbours: 

  • Site the barbeque so the wind blows smoke away from your neighbours' gardens.
  • Don't light the barbeque when neighbours have their washing out.

If you would like to report an ongoing nuisance caused by bonfires or barbeque smoke, please use the online enquiry form.