Fire Safety & Awarness

Burning Rubbish: Rules & Regulations and Tips for Safe Bonfires

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People burn rubbish so that they do not have to travel a long way to dispose of it; in other words, it is easier to get rid of garbage by burning it. A bonfire is a vast, well-managed outdoor fire used for either informal or formal disposal of flammable trash. The bonfire is placed inside a burn barrel, wooden stove, outdoor boiler or open pit. While it is not entirely illegal to arrange bonfires in the UK, one can be fined in the attempt if anyone gets harmed.

Regarding the informal process of burning rubbish rules, there is no such thing as a completely risk-free bonfire; however, one should take some precautions to ensure that no accidents occur. In this blog, you will learn about the & regulations to follow while burning rubbish and tips to ensure a safe bonfire. You will also learn about the alternatives to burning rubbish and at what time you can have a fire in your garden.

Logs are burning in the garden


Burning Rubbish Rules and Regulations

Burning garbage in your garden requires you to follow some set of rules. For example, the rules include- the time to set a bonfire or the kind of waste you are allowed to burn. You need to follow these rules to keep people safe from catching a big fire. So, let’s find out the regulations regarding burning rubbish in your garden.

What time can you have a fire in your garden?

There is no specific time to burn rubbish in your garden. Instead, you are allowed to burn waste whenever you feel, but you must consider your neighbours.  As per the burning rubbish rules, you must not burn waste when people are outside. This means you can set a bonfire in the early morning or late at night when fewer or no people are around.

What Type of Rubbish Can and Can’t I Burn?

The type of rubbish you can burn is-

  • Grass
  • Twigs
  • Leaves
  • Branches
  • Hedge cutting

The kind of rubbish you cannot burn is-

  • Plastic
  • Chemicals
  • Rubber
  • Wooden items
  • Animal waste
  • Electrical items
  • Paint
  • Fibreglass
  • Food waste

Is It Legal to Burn Rubbish in a Garden?

 Burnt logs have become coal after burning


Garden bonfires aren’t technically illegal. But it is not legal to burn rubbish in your garden if your neighbours get disturbed by the fire or smoke. You might get fined if any of your neighbours complain to the authority.

Law for burning rubbish in the garden

According to GOV.UK, “You cannot get rid of household waste if it will cause pollution or harm people’s health. This includes burning it. You can get rid of household or garden waste by composting or recycling it. Contact your local council to find out how to dispose of garden waste and recycling in your area.”

No laws are preventing you from having a bonfire, as long as it does not cause a statutory nuisance to other people. For example, under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, a bonfire could be causing a statutory nuisance if it occurs regularly and prevents someone from enjoying their garden or opening windows.

To classify as a statutory nuisance, smoke must do one of the following:

  1. Interfering unreasonably and significantly with the use or enjoyment of a home or other properties
  2. Injuring or being likely to impair health

If your neighbor’s campfire is causing a problem, authorities may issue an ‘abatement notice.’ Your neighbor may face penalties if they do not comply with the rules of the abatement notice.

Can You Burn Garden Waste?

Grass, hedge and shrub cuttings, leaves and weeds, small branches, twigs, sticks, fallen fruit, plants and flowers- are considered garden waste. And you can set a bonfire to burn your garden waste. You should not burn the garden waste if they are still fresh or green, as they create more smoke. You can burn them once they dry out.

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Burning Rubbish Rules for Safe Bonfires

Setting a bonfire may be tempting, but you must follow some safety precautions before you do so. If a bonfire in a garden gets out of hand, it poses a considerable risk to residents. These are rules you should follow while burning rubbish-

  1. Build your bonfire far away from any structures, garden sheds, fences, or hedges.
  2. Never start a fire with flammable material, and never burn hazardous goods like aerosol cans, paint tins, foam furniture, or batteries.
  3. Leave no unattended bonfires. An adult should supervise it until it has completely burned out. If it must be left, thoroughly wet it with plenty of water.
  4. Check the weather forecast before starting a bonfire if there is a chance of heavy winds.
  5. Keep in mind that there are no cables, electrical, or phone lines near or above the campfire.
  6. Pets and children should be kept away from the fire.
  7. In case of an emergency, keep a bucket of water or a hosepipe nearby or call 999 if the fire gets out of control.

Should I Notify Anyone About My Bonfire?

There is no legal requirement to inform anyone before starting a bonfire. But you should notify your neighbours ahead of time to ensure that your campfire does not conflict with their plans (drying laundry, garden parties, and general use of their garden).

Wood burning in bright flames


What Are Some Tips for Having a Bonfire?

As we know, burning rubbish can turn into a massive fire if not appropriately supervised. Here are some tips about how to finish a bonfire without causing harm:

  • Wear non-flammable clothes –when starting, sitting near, or extinguishing a fire, you should not wear rubber shoes or flip flops because leaping sparks may cause them to catch fire.
  • Keep an eye on alcohol intake –if you and your guests are having an alcoholic beverage or two around the bonfire, keep an eye on how much you’re drinking. Too much alcohol can cause clumsiness, and irresponsible behaviour, such as getting too close to the fire or throwing the wrong things in.
  • Put out the fire safely –when the fire has burned out, spread out the ashes with a shovel and allow them to cool. Slowly pour water over the ashes, keeping a close eye on them to ensure no burning remains. Put the cool ash in a metal can specifically made for ash storage. It would be best not to leave the area until it is completely extinguished.
  • Stay protected –If you’re planning a summer bonfire, talk to your independent insurance agent about the insurance coverage you will need to safeguard your family, house, and belongings.

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Burning Rubbish Alternatives

There are other ways of getting rid of garbage other than burning them and these alternatives can be less troublesome than burning to some people. Below mentioned are some of the ways one can get rid of rubbish.

Council Bins and Waste Collection Services

According to Commons Library Parliament, “In England a ‘waste collection authority’ (in practice this is normally the district, metropolitan or city council; or unitary authority), has a duty to collect ‘household waste’, under section 45 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, as amended (EPA 1990)”.
While section 45 of the EPA 1990 requires waste collection authorities to collect domestic garbage, no provision in this Act or any secondary law requires authorities to collect household waste on a routine basis.

Local Tips and Recycling Centres

Household garbage should be recycled and disposed of at your local household waste recycling centre (HWRC) or tip. Aerosols, Books, DVDs and CDs, Clothing and shoes, Cans (food and drink), Car batteries, Cardboard, Carpet, Cooking oil- these are the items you can take to the recycling centres.

Composting Food and Garden Shredding

To compost food, you start by piling things on top of a few centimetres of garden trash at the bottom. Add one layer of yard debris, such as twigs, leaves, or grass clippings, for every two layers of food. You’ll eventually have compost fit for anyone’s marrows to grow in.

Garden Shredding is a more appealing option because it turns all those branches and clippings into manageable wood chips for walkways or mulching or shreds for your green bin or compost.


Although it seems easier to start a fire in your garden and burn rubbish, you need to be extra careful about this. Also, bonfires are not helpful for our environment. For example, a bonfire can produce carbon dioxide, resulting in global warming. So, even if it is necessary to arrange a bonfire, you should take additional precautions to ensure that no one gets harmed. Hope this blog was helpful enough to let you know about the rules & regulations and tips for a safe bonfire.

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