The bonfire takes its name from the medieval bon-fire of animal bones. While modern day bonfire ingredients are on the whole less gruesome, burning waste materials can cause pollution and local nuisance. Fires have been used throughout the centuries – to mark occasions, as signals and to dispose of waste. However, we now have alternative ways of disposing of most materials – and burning some things is illegal.

A bonfire can be a useful way for disposing of garden waste that cannot be composted – or perhaps you want a bonfire just for fun. Bonfires have traditionally been used to mark events such as Bonfire Night.

If you do have a bonfire to dispose of garden waste, or on Bonfire Night, warn your neighbours (they are much less likely to complain) and follow our good bonfire guidelines, which are;

  • Only burn dry material

  • Never burn household rubbish, rubber tyres or anything containing plastic, foam or paint

  • Avoid lighting a fire in unsuitable weather conditions – smoke hangs in the air on damp, still days. If it is too windy, smoke blows into neighbours' gardens and windows and across roads

  • Avoid burning when air pollution levels in your area are high or very high. You can check air quality on 0800 556677 or at

  • Keep your fire away from trees, fences and buildings

  • Never use oil, petrol or methylated spirits to light a fire – you could damage yourself as well as the environment

  • Never leave a fire unattended or leave it to smoulder – put it out

There is an excellent brochure on this topic which you can download by clicking on this link.