Nuisance Reports During Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak

Due to the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic Government Guidelines we are unable to carry out visits in response to nuisance reports at this time.

We would like to encourage all residents to be considerate towards their neighbours during these extraordinary times, and if you are being affected by a nuisance caused by a neighbouring property we would encourage you to contact your neighbour informally to let them know that they are causing you a problem.

Contacting your neighbour must be done in a way that meets the government’s current social distancing rules. You could write your neighbour a letter, or speak with them on the telephone. We have letter templates here which can help you with this

You might also be able to take your mind off the issue by finding distractions within your home.

If you have tried the above and are still experiencing the problem or feel it is not appropriate, we are able to give you advice on nuisance issues over the phone; please contact us via email at EnvironmentalHealth@swdevon.gov.uk. We are unable to investigate anonymous reports.

There is no law against having a bonfire, but there is legislation if it causes a nuisance.

What does the law say about bonfires?

The law says you can light a bonfire at any time, as long as it doesn't cause a nuisance - there are no specific bylaws against bonfires in this area.

However, having a bonfire every day, or regularly, or a large bonfire may cause a nuisance.

It is an offence for smoke from a bonfire to drift onto a public highway as stated in the Highways Act. If this happens, contact the police.

If a bonfire emits dark smoke - as defined by the Clean Air Act 1993 - then an immediate offence is committed and the Council can take action, including prosecution if necessary.


Bonfires and pollution

Burning garden waste creates smoke containing air pollutants and particles. Burning man-made materials can be smelly and could release poisonous chemicals into the air.

Composting garden and kitchen waste is an alternative to bonfires.


What can I do about smoke or bonfire nuisance?

If smoke coming from another property is affecting your normal and reasonable use of your property, then it might be a 'Statutory Nuisance.'

Sometimes people are not aware they are causing a problem; try speaking to them first.

If you don't feel comfortable doing this, or if this is not successful, contact us and we may be able to help.


How can I report a bonfire nuisance?

Please complete .


Where can I get more information?

Please read the DEFRA Guide to Open Fires and Woodburning Stoves