Residents urged, don’t burn it - think of your neighbours

Published: Thursday, 16th April 2020

Oxford City Council is urging residents to refrain from burning garden waste during the current coronavirus pandemic. Smoke from bonfires can not only be a nuisance but could be a health risk for neighbours.

Complaints about the nuisance caused by bonfires have risen each week since the start of March at nearly double the rate of previous years. Some callers have reported health effects such as breathing difficulties and sore throats. Those affected include people self-isolating due to existing medical conditions. They may be vulnerable and could have respiratory issues.

Please think of others before lighting any fires; stockpile your garden waste, create a compost area or simply let the job wait until the garden waste collection service restarts or the recycling centres re-open.


"Now more than ever we need to help our neighbours and be responsive to their needs. The current crisis has seen Oxford's residents really step up to help their community so please be a part of that and help by not lighting bonfires. I realise that suspending the service causes difficulties for those with garden waste but I want to urge people to compost it in their gardens or store it until the service starts up again. Please be patient and think of your neighbours before burning anything."
Cllr Louise Upton, Cabinet Member for a Safer, Healthy Oxford.


Oxford City Council has been forced to temporarily suspend garden waste collections during the coronavirus pandemic so that resources could be refocused on essential services and help the most vulnerable people in the city. Meanwhile Oxfordshire’s waste recycling centres are closed following Government advice on non-essential travel.

The message from the City Council not to light bonfires follows a similar plea from Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue, who asked residents to not to light garden fires during the pandemic. As well as the danger of the fire spreading uncontrollably and the effect on those with respiratory problems, the Fire and Rescue Service has expressed concerns that bonfires could divert their crews from real emergencies.

"I urge residents thinking of burning a bonfire or using a garden incinerator not to do so, and above all, to think about fire risk and the health implications of the smoke on their neighbours, especially during the current situation. It can create excessive smoke and fumes that can harm the environment and public health. Smoke also prevents neighbours from enjoying their gardens, opening windows or hanging washing out. You can help us reduce risk by putting the right thing in the right bin, composting garden waste, or holding material to dispose of safely once normal service resumes.”
Oxfordshire County Council’s Chief Fire Officer, Rob MacDougall


Whilst lighting a bonfire is not in itself illegal, the Council has powers to control nuisance bonfires and antisocial behaviour. For more information visit our bonfires page.