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Garden bonfires

Garden bonfires produce smoke and smells. They can annoy neighbours as well as damage the environment. In particular where the bonfire guidelines are not followed.  It is an offence to burn household waste, and anything that is likely to cause pollution to the environment.

Commercial waste

It is an offence to dispose of commercial/industrial waste by burning unless carried out under an environmental permit or under an exemption.  Please see further information on environmental permits and waste disposal exemptions on the Environment Agency website.

Better ways to dispose of garden waste

Bonfires are definitely not the most environmentally friendly way of getting rid of waste. We recommend that you dispose of garden waste in other ways:

Bonfire guidelines

If you wish to have an occasional small garden bonfire of dry garden matter, please follow these guidelines:

  • Only burn dry organic garden waste, or clean wood
  • NEVER burn household rubbish - including rubber tyres or anything containing plastic, treated wood, foam or paint - this is an offence.
  • Warn your neighbours - they are much less likely to complain.
  • Warn Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service. However, please note that the Fire and Rescue Service are concerned only with the risk of fire.  Calling to advise you are having a fire does not provide you with permission to commit an offence, especially where commercial/industrial waste is concerned.
  • 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.

Burning solid fuel in the home 

Visit our Burning solid fuel in the home web page for guidance on: 

  • Solid fuel appliances
  • Installing and maintaining your appliance 
  • Burning better: choosing the best fuels for your health, the environment and your wallet 
  • How to save energy and keep warm


There are no bylaws in Cornwall covering domestic bonfires and there are no specific times of day when bonfires are prohibited. 

Some complaints about bonfires can be dealt with by the Council. Further information on how to report a nuisance bonfire and how we deal with your complaints of smoke nuisance can be found at our statutory nuisance webpage.

Reports of smoke nuisance, or dark smoke, from burning of commercial waste can also be reported to the Council, but please also report to the Environment Agency, particularly for large-scale and/or regular commercial bonfires.

If a bonfire is causing smoke to drift across a road, please contact the police

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