Smoke can be considered a statutory nuisance if it affects people or property. It may be an offence whether or not if it affects anyone.
The Clean Air Act 1993 makes it an offence to burn anything on an industrial or trade premises that gives rise to dark smoke. This would include plastic, insulating materials (e.g. foam) tyres and treated/ painted wood.
What we can deal with:
- substantial smoke from domestic chimneys.
- persistent bonfires.
What we cannot deal with:
- occasional short smoke emissions from a domestic chimney
- occasional garden bonfires
Barbecue seasons can vary depending on the unpredictability of British weather and in some circumstances, the smoke can become an issue.
Approach your neighbour explaining the issue; it may be a case of relocating the BBQ further away from your property.
If this does not resolve the issue and your complaints are disregarded, we can look at the smoke caused and if the activities are unreasonable.
There are no set times for having a bonfire. However, bonfires can be dangerous and regarded as a nuisance if it affects people or property.
With garden waste, we encourage:
- Use of household recycling centres Waste and recycling (allerdale.gov.uk)
- Use your garden waste bin Waste and recycling (allerdale.gov.uk)
- Use a soil improver
- Never burn garden waste that is freshly cut
If you must have a bonfire, we recommend the following:
- Inform your neighbours
- Never burn household rubbish
- Never use oil, petrol, or spirits
- Never leave the fire unattended
- Ideally burn later in the evening and consider weather conditions such as prevailing winds
- Only burn dry material
- Check air pollution levels in your area before burning: Air quality (allerdale.gov.uk)
When a complaint is made, we will investigate to identify if the bonfire is a statutory nuisance.
If this is found to be the case and the bonfire continues, we will serve an abatement notice. In these cases we consider prosecuting the source. Although prosecution regarding domestic bonfires are rare, you may have to give evidence in court.
Before making a complaint
Approach your neighbour and discuss the problem to find the best solution. If this does not resolve the issue we may be able to help you.
When a complaint is made, we will investigate to identify if the smoke is a statutory nuisance. If the problem continues, you will be advised to complete a diary sheet. Please request this from Environmental Health and record how the smoke is impacting on your use and enjoyment of property. Depending on the evidence, Officers may contact the alleged source of the issue and take a number of visits to validate your complaint.
We will require sufficient and accurate information and normally we must collect further evidence to build a case. On review of the evidence, the following actions may be taken include: informal advice given, no further action or a Notice will be served. There are also different provisions with Businesses and for developments of a certain size. If a statutory nuisance is identified, we must serve an Abatement Notice on the source of the problem.
If we serve a notice and the smoke continues, we may consider prosecuting the source. Although prosecution regarding domestic smoke is rare, you may have to give evidence in court.