Bonfire advice (including reporting bonfire problems)

Considerations to have when lighting a bonfire and advice for neighbours.

Garden bonfires during COVID 19 lockdown

At this difficult time, when we all must stay in our homes, please be considerate to your neighbour. We are all in this together so let’s work together. Ask yourself: “Do I need to burn the garden waste right now?”


It is perfectly acceptable to have a bonfire in your garden as long as it does not cause a nuisance to your neighbours. Bonfires can result in pollution and cause a nuisance so you should consider carefully if and how you burn waste.

Before lighting a bonfire

  • Consider the Alternative
    • Home composting – most garden waste can be composted. Home composting advice is available from

GRAB Trust at or by contacting them on 01546 604227 Lorn & Oban Reuse Initiative (LORI) on 01631 569819 or, Zero Waste Scotland at or call the Home Composting Helpline on 0846 600 0323

  • Try to reduce nuisance

You can minimise the nuisance caused by a bonfire in the following ways:

  • Avoid having a bonfire while your neighbours have laundry drying, are enjoying their gardens or have their windows open. Ideally you should consider lighting your fire after 18.00 hours.
  • Consider weather conditions and the effect they will have on the spread and dispersal of smoke
  • Avoid lighting large fires or burning for long periods
  • Avoid frequent bonfires

Whilst the fire is alight

  • Burn as safely as possible
    • DO NOT light a fire in a place where it could spread or burn out of control
    • DO NOT burn painted or treated wood, rubber, plastics, household rubbish or similar products which can generate toxic fumes and dark smoke.
      • DO NOT use petrol or similar products to light or encourage a bonfire
      • DO NOT burn cables
      • DO NOT allow smoke to drift across the highway where it might cause an accident (you could also be fined by the Police under separate legislation)
      • DO NOT leave a fire unattended
      • DO have a means to extinguish a fire if needed

Try to reduce nuisance

  • Avoid burning wet material as this usually generates more smoke
  • Respond positively to any complaints from neighbours

Action by the council

If a bonfire is causing a nuisance to neighbours then action can be taken under Section 80 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. The council can serve an abatement notice requiring the bonfire to be put out and preventing bonfires in the future. Normally bonfires must happen frequently for this action to be taken. Please note that Argyll and Bute Council do not have any bye-laws prohibiting or controlling bonfire activity and in order to take formal action a person making a complaint must give full name and address details and be prepared to keep odour diaries and make a statement.

Failure to comply with the abatement notice is an offence carrying a maximum fine of £5,000.

Contact us

Environmental Health will investigate nuisance complaints in relation to bonfires.

You can contact us by telephone on 01546 605519 or use our reporting form.

Report a problem bonfire now >



Did you find what you were looking for?

Why wasn't this information helpful

Limit to 250 characters.