Bonfires and smoke control

What to do if bonfires and smoke are causing a nuisance. Find out if you live in a smoke controlled area.

Information about bonfires and waste disposal

Domestic (garden) bonfires

We can only take action against someone who causes a smoke nuisance by having regular bonfires. First try talking to your neighbours so they understand how their bonfire is affecting you.

If your neighbours are having regular bonfires which are affecting you, you can make a complaint by downloading diary sheets. The diary sheets allow you to make a record of how often the smoke is happening and how it affects you. Without the completed diary sheet, we cannot investigate the smoke nuisance complained of.

You can return your completed diary sheets to Church Square House in Scunthorpe, or email them to us at environmental.health@northlincs.gov.uk.

If you are concerned about a dangerous bonfire, please contact Humberside Fire by calling 999.

Guidelines for garden bonfires:

If you have garden waste to dispose of, it is better to compost it, either in a home composter or by putting it in your brown bin for collection. You can also take garden waste to a council household recycling centre.

If a bonfire is the best practicable option for disposing of garden waste, follow these guidelines from Environmental Protection UK to avoid causing a nuisance:

  • warn your neighbours beforehand
  • do not light a bonfire if your neighbours are in the garden, have their washing out, or have their windows open
  • only burn dry material
  • never burn household rubbish, rubber tyres, or anything containing plastic, foam or paint
  • never use old engine oil, meths or petrol to light the fire
  • avoid lighting a fire in unsuitable weather conditions; smoke hangs in the air on damp, still days and in the evening
  • if it is windy, smoke may be blown into neighbouring gardens and across roads
  • avoid burning when air pollution in you area is high or very high
  • Never leave a fire unattended and have plenty of water available to put the fire out if you need to.

The burning of trade waste is an offence. All businesses have a duty of care regarding their waste and must ensure it is properly managed and have suitable arrangements in place for its storage, collection, transportation and final disposal.

Causing dark smoke from burning waste at a trade, industrial or business premises is an offence under the Clean Air Act 1993. Furthermore, any bonfire could constitute a statutory nuisance under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 in relation to smoke, fumes and dust, for example.

We have produced Bonfires and the law a guide to business, explaining the legislation in further detail. We offer a range of commercial waste services to businesses.

What are the guidelines on crop burning?

In most cases it is illegal to burn cereal straw and stubble and the residues of oilseed rape, peas and beans in the field.
For further information please read our crop burning leaflet.

What is the waste duty of care?

Whether you are a private householder or a business you have a duty in law to ensure that you only dispose of your waste via a permitted waste carrier to a permitted site, such as North Lincolnshire Council wheeled bins, household recycling centre or trade waste service.

If you do not do this you may be committing an offence. You can check if the person collecting your waste has a permit from the Environment Agency

Smoke control guidance

Within North Lincolnshire the urban area of Scunthorpe is covered by a number of Smoke Control Areas.

Whilst it is an offence under the Clean Air Act 1993 to produce smoke from a domestic chimney, furnace or fixed boiler in a smoke control area, this is also subject to a number of statutory defences.

If you are concerned about smoke from a domestic chimney in a smoke control area, evidence must be obtained to show that the person is burning a fuel which is not ‘authorised’ as a smokeless fuel in an appliance that is not ‘approved’ to burn such fuel.

The current maximum level of fine is £1,000 for each offence.

If you live within a smoke control area our wider statutory nuisance powers under the Environmental Protection Act do not apply.

Further information

The urban area of Scunthorpe is covered by Smoke Control Orders (SCOs). You can see the details on our map. Please zoom in on the map to view individual streets.

What fuel can I burn in a Smoke Control Area?

Fuels – Defra, UK

What is an approved appliance?

Appliances – Defra, UK

What rules apply outside of Smoke Control Areas?

Properties outside the urban area of Scunthorpe are not subject to Smoke control Orders and as such the law covering statutory nuisance under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 in relation to smoke, fumes dust etc. applies.

The use of wood burners and stoves in residential properties is becoming increasingly popular.

We are seeing an increase in the amount of smoke coming from domestic chimneys and this can have a negative impact on local air quality. Heavy smoke can cause breathing problems and will make some conditions such as asthma worse and contribute to other health problems.

Before buying and installing a wood burning stove you should find out if you live within a Smoke Control Area.

There are different rules if you live within a Smoke Control Area and you must ensure that your appliance is ‘approved’.

DEFRA recently published a practical guide on open fires and wood-burning stoves to provide some simple steps for those using or considering installing an open fire or wood burning stove.

It is advised that the installation of a new stove is carried out by a HETAS qualified person.

If you need further information or advice, you can contact our Building Control section on 01724 297000.

When choosing a solid fuel stove it is important to make sure the stove has been properly tested before you buy it. Low cost stoves with no evidence of testing should be avoided as they may be unsafe.

The minimum acceptable heating efficiency rating for solid fuel stoves is 65 per cent.

Stoves that meet this standard will have been tested to the European standard BS EN13240 by an accredited organisation and marked with either the British Standard kite mark or the CE symbol. The label will include the name of the manufacturer, the produce reference code, recommended fuel types and efficiency rating of the stove.

For your own safety, it is essential that any person fitting a solid fuel stove is competent to do so. Do not attempt to install your own appliance as a DIY project using the internet as a guide.

Although qualifications are not compulsory, you should ensure that the person or company you choose to install your appliance is accredited and registered under the following government-approved competent persons schemes:

  • APHC
  • Benchmark
  • Certsure

Ensure that they give you a certificate of compliance at the end of the job.

The installing solid wood stoves guide is aimed at any person who intends to install a wood burning stove in an existing building. It is assumed you will have sufficient skills to undertake the work. You are likely to be a member of a competent persons scheme and authorised by your scheme operations to undertake this work. If you are not, then you will have to submit a **building regulation application** to the local council where the work is to be undertaken.

This guide is intended to assist you in the installation process, outlining key issues that may affect the safe installation of the appliance. It guides you through the regulatory requirements and stages of commissioning of an appliance.

This how to test the safety and efficiency of flues and chimneys guide is intended to advise installers on the practices and procedures that must be followed in the commissioning and testing of flues and chimney systems serving solid fuel appliances.

The guide informs you on how to check that existing, relined or new flues discharge safely to external air. It is restricted to natural draught flues intended for open-flued appliances. It informs you how to assess whether the flue in the chimney, the connecting fluepipe (and flue gas passages in the appliance) are free of obstruction and acceptably gas tight.

Please think about how you are lighting your fire and the type and amount of fuel that you are using. If your home is warm already, do you need to burn?

Think carefully about the fuel you burn:

  • Only use well-seasoned dry wood. Wet or green wood will cause unnecessary smoke and may lead to complaints from surrounding properties. Logs that are not dry provide a fire that smoulders and creates a lot of tar and smoke.
  • Do not burn household rubbish or plastics as these may contain harmful pollutants.
  • Do not use treated wood products such as old fence posts or chipboard. They contain glues and chemicals that will cause fume problems when burnt.

Woodsure has a list of wood fuel producers who sell wood fuel which has a low water content. It is the UK’s only wood fuel quality assurance scheme, and is called the Ready to Burn initiative. It is designed to help homeowners look after their stoves and improve air quality.

Flues and chimneys should be swept regularly. Follow manufacturer’s recommendations for servicing.

If you do receive complaints from neighbours, consider using smokeless fuels if you have a multi-fuel stove. Check your manufacturers’ instructions and always burn the recommended fuels.

Remember that even if you follow the advice given above, if your appliance is causing a statutory nuisance you may have to stop using it.

In cases where our evidence shows that smoke or fumes are causing significant interference with another person’s use and enjoyment of their property we can serve a legal notice on the person(s) responsible, requiring action to be taken to stop the problem.

With this in mind it is important to prevent smoke problems to neighbours by proper installation, use of correct fuel and careful operation of the stove.

Incorrectly installed stoves and flues can lead to fires or dangerous gases entering your home or that of your neighbour potentially leading to carbon monoxide poisoning or death.

It is therefore in your own interest as well as your neighbours to ensure the correct installation.

Always ensure your purchase a carbon monoxide alarm for use in the same room as the stove. This is now a requirement of the Building Regulations for new stoves.