Residents urged to avoid bonfires to reduce air pollution

Residents urged to avoid bonfires to reduce air pollution

Southampton City Council, Eastleigh Borough Council, New Forest District Council and Winchester City Council are working in partnership with local environmental charity the Environment Centre (tEC) to support residents in avoiding air pollution from household burning and improving air quality for their health, their community and the environment. 

While the winter campaign focuses on burning in the home (open fires and stoves) the summer campaign focuses on burning outside of the home (bonfires). Households thinking of having a bonfire will be asked if they can they avoid burning or burn cleaner and burn safely. The key message is to think twice before lighting a bonfire and consider alternatives to burning. With an increased use of fire pits and chimineas to keep warm when meeting outside, the advice is don’t put any old wood on the fire, but use ‘ready to burn’ or smokeless fuels.

Bonfires can cause harmful particulate air pollution at home and in your neighbourhood. This negatively impacts the health of your family and community, affecting your heart and lungs. 

 Suggestions instead of having a bonfire are… 

  • Compost garden waste at home or through council garden waste collections.
  • Dispose of household waste safely through council general and bulky waste collections, waste and recycling centres and recycling or donating where possible.

 If you need to have a bonfire, the advice is… 

  • Only burn dry, untreated wood and not rubber tyres, plastics or wood with varnish or paint. 
  • Consider your neighbours, community and wildlife before building and lighting a fire. 
  • Be aware of the impacts of air pollution – don’t allow fires to smoulder or produce a lot of dark smoke, and avoid days with poor air quality or unsuitable weather conditions. 
  • Follow fire safety advice – don’t leave a fire unattended, keep water nearby and children and pets away. 

Adam Goulden, Chief Executive, the Environment Centre (tEC) said, “We have found that many residents are not aware that household burning contributes to harmful particulate air pollution, which negatively impacts the health of their family and community. As our awareness campaign moves into the summer months, we hope to continue our work engaging local communities and stakeholders on wood burning in homes and gardens and how they can help improve air quality.”

The Environment Centre (tEC) are providing information and advice in different formats throughout the region and directly engaging with the community and stakeholders, so look out for the campaign in your area. For more information and advice on wood burning, see the Environment Centre (tEC) website: or contact