Report a problem with smoke

Smoke gets in your eyes, it covers clean washing in smuts, contaminates food and can cause breathing problems. You, or someone else can pay a high price for causing such a nuisance. Part 3 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 requires the council to take reasonable steps to investigate and, if appropriate, to take formal action in the event of justified complaints of statutory nuisance.

Typical complaints of smoke include:

  • Smoke and ash from garden bonfires.
  • Smoking chimneys.
  • Dust from buildings and demolition activity.
  • Cooking smells from restaurants.

The legislation does not allow us to deal with complaints of smells arising from domestic premises.

To report a problem with smoke, you will need to tell us:

  • Address the smoke is being emitted from
  • Type of property the smoke is coming from

Report a problem with smoke

If satisfied that a complaint of statutory nuisance is justified, an abatement/penalty notice will be served upon the person responsible, occupier or owner of the premises (as appropriate) requiring that the nuisance be abated. Failure to comply with an abatement/penalty notice is an offence and legal proceedings may result. If found guilty of an offence of this type then the maximum fine is £5,000 on domestic premises and £20,000 on commercial premises.

Smoke Control Areas apply to parts of Windsor. The effect is to require householders to burn only approved smokeless fuels - e.g. gas, coke or branded solid smokeless fuels including Coalite and Homefire - see the Solid Fuel Association website - solidfuel.co.uk. This site also gives advice on fireplaces, appliances and fuels. The council encourages everyone to use an efficient modern appliance and burn only smokeless fuel.

For more information or to make a complaint please call the Customer Service Centre on 01628 683830.

To report a problem with smoke, you will need to tell us:

  • Address the smoke is being emitted from
  • The type of building

Bonfires

There are no statutory hours on when to have a bonfire, however please consider the following guidelines:-

  • If you light a bonfire, ensure that the material to be burnt is dry. This will minimise the amount of smoke produced. Do not light a fire when the weather conditions might cause the smoke to travel into your neighbours' gardens or properties.
  • Burn everything quickly in small piles. A quick hot fire will produce only the minimum amount of smoke.
  • Position any bonfire as far away from buildings as possible. Don't light a fire if the wind will carry the smoke over the road
  • Remember that smoke will hang in the air on a damp, windless day and in the evening around sunset.
  • Take care to keep children away from a bonfire. Supervise burning as much as possible.
  • Never leave a fire to smoulder, put it out with either water or soil.
  • Remember, heaps of garden refuse provide a haven for small animals. Check before you light.
  • Never add household rubbish, oil rags, rubber, plastics, aerosols or any other material which will create toxic fumes.
  • Compost wherever possible.

Bonfire Complaints

  • If you are being disturbed by smoke, the best initial course of action is to approach your neighbour and explain the problem. This may be difficult but your neighbour may simply be unaware of the effects the bonfire is having.
  • If this fails, contact the Environmental Protection Customer Contact Centre on 01628 683830.  
  • An officer will investigate your complaint and will try to deal with the problem by visiting or sending a letter to notify your neighbour of the disturbance being caused. We will also ask you to keep a diary which will record dates and times of your neighbour's fires and how they are affecting you. This is crucial information as it will allow us to establish if the circumstances are sufficiently serious to possibly be a statutory nuisance.
  • The officer will issue an abatement notice under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, if they consider a statutory nuisance is being caused.
  • To be considered a statutory nuisance, bonfires usually need to be a regular occurrence and causing serious interference with your well-being. If the bonfire is a one off or you are troubled by bonfires from different neighbours, each only burning occasionally, enforcement action would be difficult to pursue.
  • The abatement notice may mean your neighbour must stop having bonfires completely and if this is not complied with then they could face a fine.  
  • The Environmental Protection Act 1990 also allows you to take your own private action in the magistrates' court. The Environmental Health department has further information on how to undertake such action if you choose to pursue this.  
  • If smoke from a fire is allowed to drift across a road surface endangering traffic, you should contact the police. This is covered under the Highways Act 1980.