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Bonfires guidelines and reporting a smoke problem

A bonfire can be a useful way for disposing of garden waste that cannot be composted - or perhaps you want a bonfire just for fun. Please be considerate and let your neighbours know if you are planning a bonfire.

Bonfire guidelines

EPUK have provided information and guidance regarding garden bonfires and the affect on local air quality.

Follow our good bonfire guidelines:

  • Only burn dry material
  • 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. You can check the latest pollution levels.
  • 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 smoulder - put it out

Alternatives to burning waste

It is an offence to dispose of domestic waste in a way likely to cause pollution of the environment or harm to human health. In practice you should not burn waste that is likely to create excessive smoke or noxious fumes. If only dry garden waste is burnt, your bonfire should not cause a problem.

We have alternatives for disposing of most materials.


Rather than burning garden waste or putting food waste in the dustbin where it will end up buried or incinerated, a compost bin will produce useful soil conditioner, saving money on commercial products.  View our Composting at home pages for more information.


Household waste should certainly not be burnt. You can donate unwanted household items for either reuse or recycling at your nearest nearest recycling centre or point.

If furniture is in reasonable condition there are many charitable or council services that collect and re-use unwanted items.  We offer a special uplifts service for old furniture.

How do I complain about a bonfire?

If bothered by smoke, approach your neighbour and explain the problem. You might feel awkward but they may not be aware of the distress they are causing and it will hopefully make them more considerate in the future.

If this fails and the bonfire is either on domestic ground or an unauthorised bonfire on public ground, phone the Customer Service Centre on 01738 476476 but if your property is at risk, contact the Fire Brigade on 999.  The Environmental Health Team will investigate your complaint and issue a notice under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 if they consider a nuisance is being caused.

Anyone lighting a fire and allowing smoke to drift across a road faces a fine if it endangers traffic or causes injuries.  If you see such an incident, contact Police Scotland on 101.

Last modified on 16 February 2022

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