Bonfires, Smoke Nuisance and Fireworks

There are no laws against having a bonfire, but there are laws to deal with the nuisance they can cause and there are also restrictions on what you are allowed to burn.

It is an offence to cause a statutory nuisance from regular bonfires, you could be fined up to £5000.

We encourage all residents to be considerate of their local communities and the environment by not having bonfires and using clean fuel for domestic heating.

Report Air Pollution

What’s wrong with a bonfire?

  • It can cause a nuisance to neighbours, each year we deals with over 100 complaints about garden bonfires
  • Fires can spread from garden bonfires to fences, trees and property
  • Garden bonfires create dioxins and other toxic pollutants
  • Smoke and smells from bonfires can aggravate respiratory problems such as asthma and bronchitis and affect those with heart complaints
  • Bonfires produce carbon dioxide, a major contributor to global warming
  • Animals often take shelter in piles of garden waste, such as prepared bonfires

Rather than burning your rubbish in a bonfire, consider

Bonfires on commercial sites

Open burning on commercial sites is generally prohibited.

However, the burning of clean wood on demolition sites is exempt from licensing, provided the wood is produced as a result of demolition work and is burned on the land where it is produced.

There is a similar exemption for tree waste from landscape maintenance. However, if such burning is causing a statutory smoke nuisance to local residents, we can take action to ensure the nuisance is abated.

Dark smoke

It is an offence to cause or permit emissions of dark smoke from industrial or trade premises (includes building and demolition).

Burning can be deemed to have taken place (without witnessing a bonfire) if the materials that have been burnt on the premises are likely to give rise to dark smoke, e.g. tyres, plastic, paint, etc. Cable burning is also a specific offence unless authorised.

You can report issues with bonfires on commercial property.

Smoke nuisance from chimneys

In Mole Valley, residents are able to use the heating fuel and equipment of their choice.

However, we do recommend that residents use cleaner fuels in a cleaner appliance installed by a competent person.

We recommend the following steps when burning solid fuels to heat your homes:

  • Consider burning less
  • Buy ‘ready to burn’ fuel
  • Season freshly chopped wood before burning
  • If you use house coal, use approved smokeless fuels, such as anthracite or smokeless coals
  • Do not burn treated waste wood (e.g. old furniture) or household rubbish
  • Regularly maintain and service your stove
  • Get your chimney swept regularly (up to twice a year)
  • Preferably buy new equipment e.g. an oven, stove or wood burner, that is suitable for use in a smoke control area


You cannot buy ‘adult’ fireworks if you’re under 18, and it’s against the law for anyone to set off fireworks between 11pm and 7am, except on certain occasions.

You can only buy fireworks (including sparklers) from registered sellers for private use on these dates:

  • 15 October to 10 November
  • 26 to 31 December
  • 3 days before Diwali and Chinese New Year

At other times you can only buy fireworks from licensed shops.

You can apply for a licence for fireworks on Surrey County Council’s website.


GOV.UK – Fireworks: the law

Health Safety Executive: Fireworks

Safety tips for bonfires, sparklers and fireworks

How to keep your pets safe during fireworks