Coronavirus (COVID-19)

As coronavirus (COVID-19) is a respiratory disease the smoke from bonfires and chimneys could pose a risk to people’s health, potentially affecting their airways. Please be considerate to your neighbours at this time and, where possible, avoid having bonfires and using wood-burning stoves.

What is the law on bonfires? 

If you're planning to have a bonfire, you should ensure that smoke does not have an unreasonable impact on others. Where a bonfire produces excessive smoke and/or becomes persistent we will investigate complaints.

In certain cases, lighting a bonfire could mean you're breaking the law. Anyone lighting a fire and allowing smoke to drift across a road could face an unlimited fine.

If satisfied that smoke (which includes smell of smoke) is having an unreasonable impact on others, we can issue a warning and/or notice requiring you to stop. A notice is a legal document. If you fail to comply with the requirements of a notice, you may be committing an offence and could be subject to prosecution and/or fine. This is unlimited in the case of a business.

If you're a business disposing of waste by burning, you could be committing a duty of care offence. In particular, this will include sites being cleared for building works, or burning material as a result of demolition or building refurbishment. All business owners have a statutory duty to dispose of their waste through a licensed waste carrier.

How to prevent a smoke nuisance

If you're thinking of having a bonfire, please be considerate to those around you and follow the guidelines below:

Bonfire dos and don'ts
Dos Don'ts 
Do consider shredding instead of a bonfire Don’t burn damp garden waste or damp grass cuttings 
Do consider the frequency of the bonfires you are having Don’t light a bonfire when neighbours are enjoying their garden or have hung their washing out
Do consider using an incinerator instead of an open bonfire Don’t allow your bonfire to smoulder for long periods of time, especially overnight.
Do be considerate to your neighbours before you light a bonfire and let them know either verbally or with a note through the door Don’t burn materials such as plastics, rubber, foams and oily rags
Do choose the location carefully - away from neighbouring homes, fences and trees Don’t leave a bonfire unattended. Never leave a bonfire once it is alight
Do burn material in small amounts  
Do leave the bonfire until weather conditions are suitable - for example, when the wind is blowing away from neighbouring properties  

How to complain about a bonfire

If someone is causing a nuisance by lighting a bonfire you should first try to talk to them. They may be unaware that their activities are causing a problem and disturbing others. If there is a persistent nuisance that you are unable to resolve informally, you can report this using our online form:

Report a nuisance

Alternatively, call us on 01442 228000 or email

To enable officers to deal with the problem as quickly as possible, please provide the following:

  • Your contact details
  • The location of the problem
  • Evidence that supports your complaint, such as photographs and short videos (the size limit on emails is 20MB).


Compost your kitchen and garden waste at home. Over time, it will break down and become a rich soil improver for your garden. Visit our home composting page for more information.

You can also put garden waste in your green-lidded wheeled bin, as part of our waste collection service**. Please note: green-lidded wheeled bins are not collected between December and February. Read more about the items you can put in the green-lidded wheeled bin.

Garden waste can also be taken to the Recycling Centres on Eastman Way in Hemel Hempstead or Northbridge Road in Berkhamsted. For more information on these, including opening hours and accepted materials, visit Hertfordshire County Council's website.

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Warning signCoronavirus (COVID-19): Our Customer Service team is offering pre-booked appointments at the Forum in Hemel Hempstead for queries that cannot be dealt with over the telephone or online. To book, call 01442 228000. We continue to provide a full range of services online and via telephone. For council service updates and other advice, please see our COVID-19 page×