Burning rubbish

Burning rubbish causes unpleasant smells, fumes and nuisance smoke. This can cause air pollution and annoy neighbours. The local council can investigate complaints about burning rubbish. To avoid causing nuisance to other people, ask the local council about safe ways to dispose of your waste.

Problems caused by burning rubbish

Burning rubbish can:

  • add to air pollution, including the general background level of air pollution
  • produce smoke if you burn damp, smouldering garden waste
  • become a risk to safety
  • produce poisonous compunds
  • cause harmful health effects
  • affect children and people with asthma, bronchitis or heart conditions
  • annoy neighbours
  • make people complain to the council about smoke, soot and smell
  • reduce visibility in the area and on roads
  • spread fire to fences or buildings
  • injure or kill hibernating wildlife and sleeping pets if they're hidden in garden waste

Reporting a fire emergency

When a fire is burning out of control and is a risk to life or property, you should contact the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service immediately.  Use the emergency number if necessary:

  • telephone 999

Safely disposing of garden waste

You can get rid of garden waste by:

  • composting
  • using the local council's food waste collection scheme
  • shredding small branches and twigs to spread on the garden as mulch, this reduces weeds and maintains soil moisture

Guidelines for burning rubbish

If burning is the most practical way to dispose of your garden waste, follow guidelines to avoid causing nuisance. It's important you:

  • only burn dry material
  • don't burn household rubbish, rubber tyres, or anything containing plastic, foam or paint
  • don't use old engine oil, meths or petrol to light the fire or encourage it
  • don't light a fire on damp, still days or in the evenings
  • think about your neighbours - if it is windy, smoke may be blown into their gardens and across roads
  • avoid burning when air pollution in your area is high or very high - check the weather forecast, or the air quality website
  • Weather forecasts for Northern Ireland
  • Pollution levels in your neighbourhood

Report waste crime

Dumping or burning waste where it's not allowed, or allowing others to do so, is a criminal offence.  To read more about reporting waste crime, go to:

More useful links

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