Garden bonfires and barbeques | Neighbourhood nuisance | Sutton Council
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What is the current situation with the COVID -19 (Coronavirus) and where to find more information.

Information from the London Borough of Sutton

Neighbourhood nuisance

Garden bonfires and barbeques

COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

Almost all consequences of COVID-19 feature anything from infection in the upper respiratory tract to severe pneumonia.  

Open burning of any kind is bad for human health by producing highly toxic emissions that can affect anyone. Smoke from any bonfire, including ones built with wood or paper, add particulate matter and carbon to the atmosphere.  The toxic emissions and particulate pollution can lead to lung irritation that could seriously affect anyone with the infection and could even result in a fatality.  

During this period of Coronavirus spread, the Local Authority asks that you do not have any bonfires at all.


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 

Residents can pay for a garden waste collection.

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:

  • Tell your neighbours about the barbeque, and perhaps invite them. 
  • 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.