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Bonfires and garden fires

You are not permitted to burn household waste if it will cause pollution or harm people's health. Household or garden waste can be disposed of via our garden waste collections, our weekly bin collections, our bulky waste collection service and at our recycling centres.

Bonfires can be classed as a statutory nuisance if they are held frequently and if they interfere with the normal use and enjoyment of a neighbour's property. If a statutory nuisance occurs formal action can be taken under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

Report a bonfire problem

If you are are concerned about a bonfire it is recommended that you approach the owner of the fire and explain that it is causing you a problem. Failing this, you can request that an Environmental Health Officer investigates the matter for you. The nature, frequency and effect of the fire will be considered. You may have to keep a diary of these occurrences to demonstrate that a nuisance exists. A diary can be kept using our Icon for pdf air pollution complaint enquiry form [174.12KB].

If a bonfire is found to be causing a nuisance then we can issue an 'abatement notice'. Once served, a person can be fined up to £5,000 if they do not stick to the notice.

If you wish to take private action, you can do so in Gateshead Magistrates Court under section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

Steps to take if you do choose to have a bonfire:

  • ensure that smoke from the bonfire does not present a danger to traffic.
  • check to make sure there are no small mammals or sleeping pets in the bonfire pile before lighting
  • never burn household rubbish, rubber tyres or anything containing plastic, foam or paint, all of which can produce toxic fumes.
  • avoid lighting a fire in unsuitable weather conditions. Damp or windy days are often unsuitable for bonfires.
  • only burn dry material
  • do not leave a fire unattended and make sure that it is extinguished before you leave it

Contact us

Environmental Protection Team
Development and Public Protection
Development and Enterprise
Gateshead Council
Civic Centre
Regent Street

0191 433 7007

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