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Bonfires, smoke and fireworks

Fireworks and bonfire night:

Garden bonfires and smoke

Garden or domestic bonfire smoke can be very irritating and cause stress to those exposed to it. The smoke could potentially contain gases and particles which can affect the health of people with pre-existing conditions such as asthma, bronchitis or heart problems. It can also affect the environment and soil washing hung out to dry.

There are no Byelaws prohibiting bonfires in Adur or Worthing. With proper consideration an occasional bonfire, or barbeque, should not cause a problem. Bonfires can however cause a statutory nuisance to neighbours, by preventing them from opening windows, hanging out washing, and enjoying their garden, as well as contributing to poor air quality locally.

Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 it is an offence to cause a statutory nuisance - this includes smoke from bonfires. To be considered a statutory nuisance, the bonfire would usually have to be a regular problem and interfering substantially with the well-being, comfort or enjoyment of your property. However it should be noted that 'one off' fires that are very large and produce excessive amounts of smoke and/or are left to burn for excessive periods of time, may also be considered a statutory nuisance if they cause a significant adverse impact on neighbours.

See also: 

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Beach bonfires

Please refer to the barbeques section in our seafront and River Adur section.

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Industrial and commercial bonfires

Burning on trade or industrial premises, construction or demolition sites can cause a statutory nuisance to neighbours, by preventing them from opening windows, hanging out washing, and enjoying their garden, as well as contributing to poor air quality locally.

Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 it is an offence to cause a statutory nuisance - this includes smoke from bonfires. To be considered a statutory nuisance, the bonfire would usually have to be a regular problem and interfering substantially with the well-being, comfort or enjoyment of your property. However it should be noted that 'one off' fires that are very large and produce excessive amounts of smoke and/or are left to burn for excessive periods of time, may also be considered a statutory nuisance if they cause a significant adverse impact on neighbours. The Council can serve an abatement notice on any commercial/industrial operation if the smoke causes a statutory nuisance. Failure to comply with the requirements of such a notice is a criminal offence and can result in a fine of up to £20,000.

Under the duty of care provisions contained within the Environmental Protection Act 1990, the Environment Agency permits only the burning of green waste which has been produced on site. However, such burning could still be considered a statutory nuisance.

An immediate offence is committed if 'dark smoke' (as defined by the Clean Air Act 1993) is emitted from a bonfire on industrial or commercial premises (including building sites).

See also:

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Domestic chimney smoke

Open fires and wood-burning stoves have risen in popularity over recent years. This means we now see more smoke from chimneys which has a negative effect on air quality. This can cause breathing problems such as asthma attacks and contribute to other health conditions. ​Fuels such as wood and coal can be used as long as the smoke from their combustion does not cause a statutory nuisance to neighbouring properties. ​However​ the use of inappropriate fuel can cause problems with local air quality.

​The leaflet below provides information and advice​ for those that use wood burning stoves or open fires, to reduce environmental and health impacts.​ By following its advice you can help to minimise the effect of your burning:

There are no smoke control areas within Adur and Worthing.

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Biomass boilers

In recent years interest has grown in biomass heating (wood burning) as an environmentally friendly way of heating homes. Burning waste in a solid fuel appliance can produce very high emissions of pollutants, potentially affecting the health of your own household and that of your neighbours. Waste wood is often treated and burning this can release toxic chemicals into the air.

If you are considering installing a biomass boiler you should ensure you utilise the services of a HETAS supplier (HETAS is the official body for solid fuel and biomass heating systems, fuels and services) or contact our Building Control section:

Emissions of pollution from a modern wood fuelled appliance are usually higher than those of an equivalent gas fired appliance. With any type of heating system you can minimise your environmental impact by ensuring your homes is as energy efficient as possible. The Energy Saving Trust can provide advice on how to do this, and on any grants that are available to help you.

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Make a complaint

If you have a complaint about bonfires, fires, smoke or fireworks or related problem, please contact the Public Health & Regulation Team.

It would be useful to know:

  • the name (if known) of the person(s) or the company/business involved
  • the address or location of the problem
  • the frequency or dates (eg daily, weekly, etc)
  • the approximate times
  • how long it lasts each time
  • size of bonfire (eg in a small bin sized incinerator, or a large open pile of items)
  • what is being burnt (eg garden plant waste, household rubbish, car tyres, etc)
  • wind direction (eg is smoke heading into or away from your garden/building)

You can report this using the online form below (if you keep a 'log sheet' of the problems listing the items above then you can attach it when you submit your complaint below, photos can also be attached):

Depending on our findings we may then write to or visit the person causing the nuisance, asking them to take any steps that may be necessary to reduce the problem if required.

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Fireworks - firework displays and safety advice

Watching fireworks can be great fun for children and adults alike. But figures show that, more often than not, it's children rather than adults who get hurt by fireworks and need treatment in hospital for firework injuries.

Remember - don't put your family or anyone else at risk.

Organised firework displays in Adur and Worthing:

Useful fireworks safety links to external websites:

About pets and fireworks:

See also:

See also on external websites:

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Fireworks - regulations on use

Who can possess fireworks?

The Firework Regulations 2004 prohibit:

  • anyone under 18 from possessing fireworks
  • and anyone except professionals from possessing display fireworks

When can fireworks be used?

These regulations also prohibit the use of fireworks at night from 11:00pm to 7:00am in England and Wales but with extensions for the following festivals:

  • Until 1:00am on the night on the Chinese New Year
  • Until 1:00am on the night of Diwali
  • Until 1:00am on New Year's Eve
  • Until midnight on 5th November

These regulations are to be enforced by the police. There is a penalty of up to £5,000 or six months in prison for breach of the curfew.

See also on external websites:

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