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Bonfires and smoke control

Domestic/garden bonfires

Industrial/commercial bonfires

Cable burning

Smoke from chimneys

Wood-burning stoves

How to make a complaint

We can investigate complaints of garden bonfires, fires on industrial and commercial premises, cable burning, and smoke from chimneys.

Domestic/garden bonfires

We discourage bonfires as they cause air pollution, upset neighbours and can damage health (particularly of children, older people, and those with breathing problems and heart conditions).

Most waste, including garden waste, can be taken to your local recycling centre, or collected for recycling for a small fee.

If you choose to have a bonfire at your home, it is your responsibility to ensure that it does not cause a nuisance to neighbours.

If you cause a smoke nuisance, we can take enforcement action against you. This could lead to a fine of up to £5,000 and a criminal record if convicted.

Industrial/commercial bonfires

Waste produced on any building site should be removed by skip or vehicle by a licensed waste carrier. It must not be burnt.

The only exception is trees and bushes cut down during the clearance of a building site. These can be burnt provided they have been allowed to dry out. The fire must be put out at the end of the working day.

Commercial premises may have a "D7 waste exemption" from the Environment Agency, which allows them to burn, in the open air, plant material and untreated wood waste (including sawdust and shavings) produced as part of their business. Please see the Defra website for more information.

Legal action may be taken against businesses causing a nuisance from bonfires, with a maximum fine of £20,000.

It is also an offence under the Clean Air Act 1993 for a business premises to emit dark or black smoke, which is subject to a £20,000 fine and a criminal record.

Report smoke from a bonfire

If you are bothered by smoke from a bonfire or other burning that is taking place outdoors, you can complain to us. We will visit and decide whether the smoke is causing a nuisance, and take action if necessary.

To complain, contact us or use our online form.

Bonfires which are out of control or sited in dangerous locations should be reported to the Fire Service by contacting 999.

Cable burning

Cable burning is carried out to remove the protective coating from the copper wire inside. It can only be carried out on premises authorised to burn cable for specific purposes. In most cases, the burning of cable is against the law and should be reported to us immediately.

Smoke from chimneys

The whole of the Mansfield district is a smoke control area. This does not mean that no smoke can be emitted from a chimney within the district - it means the amount of smoke must be controlled by use of "exempted appliances" (also called "approved appliances") and "authorised fuels".

If you have a solid fuel fire of any kind (including in a garden shed or greenhouse), this will affect you. Only authorised smokeless fuel (authorised fuels), which can be ignited by bottled gas, firelighters or electric igniters, can be burned.

Ordinary coal and wood are not authorised fuels and cannot be burned unless they are being burned on an exempted appliance.

As well as using smokeless fuel, you should make sure that the fire or burner that you use is an approved appliance and is suitable for the type of fuel you use.

If you would like further information on the different types of solid fuel and approved appliances, please contact us or HETAS.

Please be aware that wood- or solid fuel-burning fires will emit smoke when being lit from cold, refuelled, or allowed to go out, or if the fuel is damp. This is allowed for in the Clean Air Act 1993.

Please note that, as the law currently stands, we cannot take action against a person who is complying with the Clean Air Act 1993 by using an authorised fuel on an exempted appliance, even if you feel that smoke from their chimney is affecting you. You may, however, be able to take private action.

Wood-burning stoves

Wood-burning stoves are very popular, but if you live in the Mansfield district you must use one that is on the Defra exempted appliance list. If your wood-stove is not an exempted type, you can only burn smokeless fuel on it.

Wood-stoves must be installed into a suitable chimney by a HETAS engineer, who will issue you with a certificate to say it has been fitted correctly.

You should only burn clean dry wood on an exempted domestic wood-burner. You can use joinery offcuts, but they must not be varnished, coated or painted, or include MDF or chipboard. Wood from palettes cannot be burned.

Some businesses have industrial wood-burning stoves, fired with wood waste from their manufacturing processes. Industrial wood-burners can burn a wider range of wood than domestic ones, according to the manufacturer's recommendations.

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