UK Outdoor Fire Laws: Fire Pits, Garden Bonfires, and Campfires

UK Outdoor Fire Laws: Fire Pits, Garden Bonfires, and Campfires

The scent of burning wood is downright magical. Walk up to a bonfire, campfire, or fire pit, close your eyes, and take a deep breath. Your mind will instantly be filled with memories of summer nights, delicious food, and quality time spent with friends and family.

Let’s face it, we’re a nation of pyromaniacs. Cooking up a delicious campfire breakfast after a night of sleeping under the stars. Sitting in front of a chiminea at a garden party with your friends, neighbours, and family members. Or building a massive bonfire on Guy Fawkes Night. It’s all as British as it gets.

But with the UK being a notorious nanny state, have you ever wondered whether you could be running afoul of the law? Could your next garden party be raided by the police due to UK outdoor fire laws? And could Bonfire Night end with you paying a hefty fine?

In this article, we will tell you everything you need to know about UK outdoor fire laws. Take five minutes to read this article now or bookmark it for later use.

Our Other Articles About UK Fire Regulations:

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UK Outdoor Fire Laws & Regulations

When it comes to starting fires on your own property, the UK has rather lax fire laws and regulations.

There are certain zones where fires are expressly prohibited (whether permanently or during certain months of the year). There are also smoke control areas where fires are generally allowed but with certain restrictions.

Outside of these zones, you are mostly free to use chimineas, fire pits, grills, and build bonfires on your own property. Burning garden waste is usually permitted as well, but it’s always better to check with your local council.

Fire Pit Rules And Regulations UK Best Practices

Always err on the side of caution and use common sense. If you want to start a fire on your property, make sure your chiminea or fire pit is positioned so that the smoke doesn’t blow onto the road or a neighbour’s property.

Camping Fire & Bonfire Best Practices

Whether you’re building a campfire in the wild or a bonfire on the beach, it is important to use common sense.

Make Sure You Have Full Permission to Build a Fire

First of all, make sure you have received permission to burn a fire from the zone’s landowner. Being allowed to camp doesn’t automatically mean being allowed to build a fire. This is because some campsites are located in zones where starting fires is forbidden (either permanently or during certain months of the year).

All UK beaches and forests are either in private ownership or in the ownership of the local council or the National Trust. As a rule of thumb, owners of campsites and beaches that are popular with holidaymakers will generally not be thrilled about your idea to build a fire on their property. Owners of wilder properties will often be easier to get permission from.

What Fines Can I Face For Violating UK Fire Laws?

If you build your fires too close to buildings and fences or create a lot of smoke by burning wet wood and green leaves, you can face a fine of up to five thousand pounds. This can only happen if a worried neighbour lodges a complaint with the local council.

UK Fire Safety Law Violations

Fire Safety Violation: Letting Smoke Drift Over Public Roads

A major violation is allowing smoke from your outdoor fire to drift over public roads, where it can obstruct the visibility of drivers, cyclists, or pedestrians. Doing this may result in you getting a visit from the police and facing a hefty fine.

Fire Safety Violation: Generating Dangerous Fumes

UK law prohibits burning any material that generates dangerous fumes. This includes:

  • All types of plastics (including most bioplastics).
  • Treated wood (painted wood, railroad ties).
  • Flammable liquids (paint, acetone, gasoline, oils).
  • Household rubbish (rubber, rubbish bags).
  • Containers of any kind that have previously contained chemicals.


Unless you live in a no-fire zone, it is generally alright for you to build a contained fire on your own property. Just make sure you don’t burn anything that will produce a lot of smoke, annoy your neighbours, or produce toxic fumes. 

If you want to start a fire on someone else’s property, always ask for full permission. Remember that permission to camp does not equal permission to start a fire.

But most of all, enjoy yourself and have a great time.