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Smoke from a bonfire on a business or industrial premises

It is an offence to emit ‘dark smoke’ from any part of industrial or trade premises, including demolition and building sites. There are some exceptions which are explained further in this page.

Most trade materials produce ‘dark smoke’ when burned. We strongly advise that any trade waste is removed by properly licensed waste carriers to properly licensed sites. Not using properly licensed carriers or sites may be an offence for which the waste producer may be responsible for.

Report smoke problems

If you have experienced smoke problems due to a bonfire on a business premises, report it to us.

Find out how to report smoke problems

What can legally be burned on industrial and trade premises

Matter Conditions
Timber and any other waste matter (other than natural or synthetic rubber or flock or feathers) which results from the demolition of a building or clearance of a site in connection with any building operation or work of engineering construction (within the meaning of section 176 of the Factories Act 1961).

1, 2 and 3
Explosive (within the meaning of the Explosives Act 1875) which has become waste and matter which has been contaminated by such explosive.

1 and 3
Matter which is burnt in connection with -
(a) research into the cause or control of fire or
(b) training in fire fighting

Tar, pitch, asphalt and other matter which is burnt in connection with the preparation and laying of any surface, or which is burnt off any surface in connection with resurfacing, together with any fuel used for any such purpose.

Carcases of animals or poultry which -
(a) have died, or are reasonably believed to and have died, because of disease
(b) have been slaughtered  because of disease, or
(c)have been required to be slaughtered pursuant to the Animal Health Act 1981

1 and 3 unless the burning is carried out by or on behalf of an Animal Health Act inspector


1. That there is no other reasonable safe and practicable method of disposing of the matter
2. That the burning is carried out in such a manner as to minimise the emission of dark smoke
3. That the burning is carried out under direct and continuous supervision of the occupier of the premises concerned or the person authorised to act on his behalf

Under the Clean Air Act 1993 an investigating officer does not have to see the smoke but can assume that ‘dark smoke’ has been emitted from trade or industrial premises where material is burned on those premises and the circumstances are such that the burning would be likely to have resulted in the emission of dark smoke.

Burning trade waste registered exemptions and environmental permits

It is also an offence under Section 33 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to deposit, keep, treat and dispose (for example by burning) of waste material without an environmental permit under the Environmental Permitting Regulations (England and Wales) 2010. However, as already mentioned, the Regulations provide an exemption for demolition waste consisting of wood, bark or plant matter. This exemption needs to be registered with the Environment Agency.

Visit the Environment Agency website for details of how to register an exemption (link opens in a new window)

Burning other materials is not exempted and therefore an environmental permit would be required if such waste is burnt on site. If wood, bark or plant matter is to be burnt on site, it is important to ensure that this material does not contain or is contaminated by chemicals or other waste material, as again an environmental permit would be required.

You should also be aware that waste produced from the construction of buildings and structures (not from demolition, including waste timber) is not exempt from permitting. Anyone convicted of an offence under the permitting requirement may potentially face a fine of up to £20,000 or six months in prison.

It is also an offence under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to cause a statutory nuisance by emitting any smoke, which is prejudicial to health or a nuisance (Section 79) or to cause pollution to the environment or harm to human health (Section 33(1)c). A person who commits an offence shall be liable, on conviction, to a fine not exceeding £20,000.

Contact us

Environmental Health
Hull City Council
33 Witham

Tel: 01482 300 300
Text phone: 01482 300 349
Fax: 01482 615 504

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