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Domestic bonfires

Image of garden bonfireAlthough Dundee City Council is made up of a network of 21 Smoke Control Areas, this does not mean that bonfires are banned in Dundee. Whilst it is not illegal to have a bonfire - there are also no Local Laws in place that prevent bonfires from certain times of the day or week - an inconsiderately burnt and smoky bonfire may well cause a statutory nuisance in regards to the Environmental Protection Act 1990.  Burning waste can prevent people from enjoying their gardens, opening windows or hanging out washing. The smoke and fumes created also affect air quality and can be damaging to health in the longer term.

If you are bothered by smoke, you may wish to approach your neighbour first and try to resolve the problem amicably – they may not be aware that their actions are causing you concern. If this fails, contact Neighbourhood Services on the details provided below and they will investigate and take appropriate action. You can also report smoke complaints by completing the online report form

Image of brown bin for garden wasteThere are alternatives to burning your garden waste and the Council recommends wherever possible that garden waste is taken to one of our Recycling Centres for composting and recycling. Alternatively, the Council offers a kerbside garden waste (brown) bin collection service. Further details on brown bins and how to order a brown bin can be found on the Brown Bin Garden Waste Collection pages of this website.

If you are to have a bonfire, be considerate and speak to your neighbours. If you warn them you are going to have a bonfire they are less likely to be annoyed - particularly if you give them a chance to bring their washing in and close their windows.

Having a bonfire on a still summer’s day can be a problem as the smoke tends to linger. This is also the time your neighbours want to be outside enjoying their own gardens. Similarly, if the wind would blow smoke directly into your neighbour's house and garden, this is not a good day to light your bonfire.

Burning plastic releases toxic pollutants, not only some of the pollutants monitored under the Councils LAQM duties, but also chemicals known to cause cancers, such as dioxins.

Below is a list of substances that should never be placed on a bonfire:

  • Plastics including plastic bags
  • Batteries
  • Gas bottles - fires should also not be built close to gas bottles
  • Pressurised containers, for example, aerosols
  • Petrol/waste oil should not be used as an accelerant
  • Fireworks
  • Tyres
  • Electrical cable
  • Polystyrene
  • Padded furniture, for example old settees – these contain foams that give off toxic chemicals when burnt
  • Paint
5 top tips for bonfires:
  • Let your neighbours know you are going to light a small fire

  • Only burn dry materials, damp materials smoulder slowly giving off more smoke.

  • Have a small fire which is topped up regularly rather than lighting a large fire.

  • Do not light the fire if the weather conditions are unsuitable.

  • Avoid burning on days when everyone else wants to be outside enjoying their gardens, for example, a sunny bank holiday.

Never leave a fire unattended, if you must leave it, douse the fire with water and make sure it is out before you leave.


Tel: 01382 433710

Neighbourhood Services
3 City Square
Dundee, DD1 3BA