Friday, 10 October 2014

Bonfires - Guidelines

Bonfires can be a nuisance, this guideline provides ideas to help plot holders avoid being a nuisance with their bonfire.


Currently, bonfires are permitted on our allotment site and we do not impose any restrictions, in terms of dates and times when they can be lit.

However, bonfire smoke can be a source of great annoyance to neighbouring houses, people on other plots and a danger to road users. The smoke can be a harmful, particularly to people with chest or heart problems and children. In addition the substances produced by a typical bonfire can be carcinogenic and a health hazard.

Our tenancy agreement already mentions :
“Bonfires must be supervised at all times, and extinguished before the person in control leaves the site.
Please have consideration for neighbours when burning fires and take account of wind direction etc.”


Above all, try to avoid bonfires in the first place. Think about when you are doing it, you are more likely cause a nuisance on a warm sunny Sunday in the summer, than on a still, cold, mid-week day in January. Take a moment to consider the wind strength and direction.

Alternatives to Bonfires


A properly built compost heap will deal with most garden wastes such as leaves, grass cuttings and kitchen scraps. Animal and Poultry bedding is an excellent accelerator (rich in Nitrogen) for composting.

Ship it out

We have three civic amenity sites in the Borough, they all take domestic and garden waste free-of-charge:
  • Shrub End Tip, Maldon Road - open daily
  • Clematis Way, Greenstead - Sat 8am-3pm
  • Upland Road, West Mersea: - Open Nov - Jan Sat & Mon 8am – 4pm, Tues – Fri 12pm – 4pm, Feb – Oct Sat & Mon 8am – 5pm, Tues – Fri 12pm – 5pm,  (May – Aug Tuesdays extended to 8pm).

Good bonfire guidelines

  • Consult your neighbours before lighting a bonfire to seek their agreement and ensure that no inconvenience is caused.
  • Site the bonfire in a safe place and as far away as possible from your neighbours’ property. Do not site it near buildings, fences, hedges, trees etc.
  • Burn only dry garden refuse.
  • Keep the bonfire under supervision at all times and ensure that it is extinguished completely, by dousing with soil or water, before you leave it.
  • Keep a bucket of water close at hand and be ready to extinguish the fire if problems arise e.g. a sudden change of wind direction.
  • Only burn natural and untreated material which is dry enough to be burned quickly and with a minimum of smoke, start a smaller fire, keep it hot, and top it up bit by bit.
  • Remember to check for hibernating hedgehogs, mice, snakes and sleeping pets.
Do not
  • Light a bonfire when weather conditions will cause problems.
  • Do not light a fire when smoke will be blown over our site neighbours, fellow plot holders or over roads.
  • Burn household rubbish, rubber or anything containing plastic, foam or paint or other chemicals and materials.
  • Use old engine oil, methylated spirits or petrol to light the fire or to encourage a bonfire.
  • Try to burn wet debris, leaves, straw, animal or poultry bedding.
  •  Leave the fire unattended or leave it to smoulder – douse it with water or soil if necessary.

These guidelines are based on guidelines from Colchester Borough Council, Ealing Council, Northhampton Borough Council and Bradford Metropolitan District Council.
Read the full Bonfire policy document