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Birmingham City Council

Frequently Asked Questions about Bonfires

Whats wrong with having a bonfire?
Bonfires can be very irritating to neighbours. Smoke prevents people from enjoying their gardens, opening windows or hanging washing out.

Bonfires cause air pollution. Burning garden waste produces smoke, especially if it is damp and smouldering. Burning plastics, rubber or painted materials not only creates an unpleasant smell but also produces a range of poisonous compounds that add to the general background level of air pollution. Smoke may cause problems for asthmatics, bronchitis sufferers, children and those with heart and lung problems.

Weather conditions can make matters worse. If the air is still, smoke will linger in the air. If it is windy, smoke may blow into neighbouring properties and across roads.

Bonfires can be dangerous. Fire can spread to fences or buildings and scorch trees and plants.

Piles of garden waste are often used as a refuge by animals, (wildlife and pets could be trapped inside and injured or killed).

Do people have to have bonfires?
No they dont. There are many alternative and better methods of getting rid of garden and other waste.

If I am going to have a bonfire, what do I need to know?
If you are determined to have a bonfire, here are a few guidelines to minimise the risk of it becoming a serious nuisance:

  • Only burn dry material.
  • Never burn anything containing rubber, plastic, foam, paint or household rubbish.
  • Do not use flammable liquids such as oil or petrol to help start your fire.
  • Avoid having a bonfire in unsuitable conditions; smoke will hang in the air in the evening and on damp still days. If the wind is in the wrong direction, smoke may blow onto roads or onto other people's property
  • Also do not leave it overnight as the smoke will not clear.
  • Find out the air quality before you light up by ringing 0800 556677 or look at Ceefax page l96 - do not have a bonfire if the air quality is `poor' or `very poor'.
  • Let people enjoy their time off from work do not burn at weekends or bank holidays.
  • Remember, bonfires are dangerous, never leave them unattended. Do not even leave them when they are smouldering douse them with water if necessary.

How can I dispose of waste without having a bonfire?
Many areas of the City now benefit from a fortnightly Green Garden Waste collection service. For further details of this service please contact the Birmingham Hotline on 0121 303 1112.

Most garden and kitchen waste can be recycled into compost. A compost bin will produce a useful soil conditioner.

Woody waste can be shredded to make it suitable for composting and mulching.

Garden waste is collected for composting at City Council Public Waste Disposal Sites at Norris Way, Sutton Coldfield; Holford Drive, Perry Barr; James Road, Tyseley; Tameside Drive, Castle Bromwich and Lifford Lane, Kings Health.

Paper and cardboard is collected in some areas of the city, see our page on Paper Round Kerbside Collection Service webpage for more information.

Who can I contact to complain about bonfires?
You can use our Online form to report matters

Warning: Look out for hedgehogs in bonfires!