Can you legally burn rubbish in your garden?

It is illegal to burn household or garden waste at home or in your garden. Burning waste can be a nuisance to neighbors and can also pollute the air by releasing harmful chemicals into it.

There are many toxic chemicals in waste items. Paper waste may contain synthetic materials, preservatives and even plastics. Disposable nappies contain gels, bleaches and plastics. Many wood products are treated with toxic chemicals to prevent rot.

Burning of such wastes in low-temperature uncontrolled fires creates toxic and dangerous by-products which are not destroyed by the fire but become airborne on soot particles. These can end up being inhaled or being washed out of the air and deposited onto surrounding soil and vegetation, where they can readily enter the food chain.

Can you legally burn rubbish in your garden?

So to say, you can’t burn rubbish in your garden, or your backyard, or anywhere. If you really need to burn the rubbish, you need an anti-flammable garage, then burn the rubbish inside it. You then need a powerful, if not the best air purifier for smoke to remove all the airborne particles that is created after the burning.

Burning household waste at home or in your garden is illegal. You can be incurred a fine of 12 months in prison if you try to do it.

Examples of where you cannot burn household or garden waste are:

  • In a barrel or exposed pile in the yard or garden
  • On a bonfire
  • On an open fire, range or other solid fuel appliance
  • In a mini-incinerator

Waste burners and other devices such as mini or household incinerators, which may be located in buildings or gardens, are illegal even if they are attached to a stack or flue.

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Can I have a bonfire in my garden?

Yes, generally you can have a bonfire in your garden. However, you must know these restrictions. You must not cause a nuisance to your neighbors and even then you should restrict the waste you burn to dry (not green) garden waste, clean timber, cardboard or paper. Burning other materials on an open fire may prove toxic, especially plastics, rubber, paint and oils. You are less likely to cause a nuisance when the wind direction is blowing away from neighboring properties.

If you are having a problem with excessive noise or smoke from a neighbor then you have two main options. First, for the sake of keeping on good terms, you should consider approaching your neighbor and politely let them know they are causing a problem. The person you are complaining about is often unaware that a problem exists and it would be helpful to them if you could explain when the problem tends to happen and why it is a nuisance to you. It is important not to get cross with your neighbor even though the noise or smoke may have made you feel that way.