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Bonfires

Report a bonfire problem

Dangerous bonfires

If the fire is dangerous contact the Police / Fire Brigade by phoning 999.

Nuisance bonfires

You can report a nuisance bonfire to South Tyneside Council:

0191 427 7000

What will happen next?

We will review your bonfire report and we may:

  • visit the area
  • write to the offender
  • communicate with local residents

If a bonfire is happening frequently and produces enough smoke to be considered a nuisance we can issue an Abatement Notice. The person responsible for the bonfire can be fined up to £5000 if they do not stick to the notice.

Please note residents living near allotments may frequently smell smoke and we can speak to allotment owners to establish good practices.

Bonfire laws

There are no laws against having a bonfire, but there are laws for the nuisance they can cause.

  • bonfires must not be lit to cause a nuisance to neighbouring premises
  • there are no times when bonfires may be lit as of right
  • you can not burn household waste if it will cause pollution or harm people's health
  • smoke emission from any source that causes a nuisance must be avoided
  • some woody garden waste, e.g. fruit canes, can be burnt if dry before burning
  • any bonfire that is considered to be essential must be carefully started with a small amount of dry material, and properly attended
  • do not place green plant material on a bonfire
  • under no circumstances should a bonfire be left to smolder - put water on it, if necessary
  • avoid burning demolition waste

Bonfire safe practice

  • tell your neighbours so they can close windows or remove washing from clothes lines
  • build your bonfire well clear of buildings, roads, garden sheds, fences, trees and hedges
  • if possible build your bonfire somewhere sheltered from the wind
  • check the wind direction and try to burn when the wind will carry smoke away from neighbouring properties
  • make sure everything to be burned is dry tinder
  • never burn household rubbish, tyres, anything containing plastic, foam, paint, batteries or aerosols
  • never use flammable liquids such as old engine oil, meths or petrol to light the fire or to encourage it
  • avoid burning demolition waste
  • before you light the bonfire, check for whether any pets, wildlife or small children have crawled inside
  • check there are no cables e.g. telephone wires above the bonfire
  • ensure the fire, once lit, is kept under supervision and is completely extinguished before being left
  • always keep a bucket of water or a working hosepipe nearby in case of fire
  • don't leave bonfires unattended and keep children and pets away
  • a responsible adult should supervise the bonfire until it has burnt out
  • when the bonfire has died down, pour water on the embers to stop it reigniting

Alternatives to burning waste

  • make best use of your household collections for food waste, recyclables and garden waste
  • compost some household or garden waste - we sell compost bins
  • bag your waste and ring us - we will collect it for a small fee, see Bulky waste collections
  • bag your waste and take it to the Council's waste reception site at Middlefields

Burning of commercial waste

It is an offence to produce dark smoke from industrial or trade premises. Action can be taken under the Clean Air Act for dark smoke and a fine up to £20,000 can be issued.

It is an offence to burn cable on a bonfire with the intention to recover the metal.

Incidents of industrial waste burning are reported to the Environment Agency who may prosecute under their legislation.

Danger to traffic by smoke

You could be fined if you light a fire and you allow the smoke to drift across the road.

Hosting a fireworks party

You can celebrate with fireworks in the comfort of your own garden or on private land (with the landowner's permission) but you and your guests need to remember to take care.

  • fireworks must be stored safely somewhere cool and dry, out of reach of children, animals and sources of heat or fire
  • warn your neighbours so they can take their washing in, close windows and keep their pets indoor
  • only buy fireworks from reputable dealers - fireworks should have the product safety marking BS7114 or equivalent and carry a CE mark
  • Fire works cannot be let off between 11pm and 7am except on: Bonfire Night (5 November) until midnight, New Year's Eve, Diwali and Chinese New Year until 1 am
  • fireworks must only be handled and lit by responsible adults
  • use a torch to read the instructions in the dark not a naked flame
  • light fireworks at arm's length, using a taper
  • when watching fireworks stand well back
  • never go near a firework that has been lit. Even if it hasn't gone off, it could still explode
  • if any fireworks hasn't gone off after at least half an hour, soak it in water to prevent it reigniting
  • hold sparklers one at a time in gloved hands at arm's length and when it goes out put it end down in a bucket of water
  • pick up spent firework cases using tongs or heatproof gloves, they can still be dangerous 

More information

The government has created a guide to organising bonfires and fireworks. The guide sets out a few simple measures that can help you celebrate Bonfire Night safely. 

It includes safety tips for hosting and enjoying your own safe fireworks party, and on having a safe bonfire, as well as what to consider if you are attending an organised fireworks display.

Guide to organising bonfires and fireworks.

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