Air Quality Including Bonfires


During the current Coronavirus pandemic with more people at home, having a garden bonfire, however tempting, would impact on a larger number of your neighbours than would normally be the case.

Smoke and smells from bonfires can aggravate respiratory problems such as asthma, bronchitis and COPD and affect those with heart complaints, causing breathing difficulties to those most vulnerable to Coronavirus.

Do not burn garden waste, paper, or any other waste, under any circumstances and be mindful of neighbours and fellow members of the community.

BBQ’s are acceptable at this time but please carefully consider the location of the BBQ and the wind direction so that you can ensure the smoke is not affecting a neighbour.

Air quality in Arun is typical of a mixed urban/rural district. Whilst some pollution derives from outside the district, the main source of pollution within Arun is transport related. For detailed information on Air Quality in Sussex see the Sussex Air website .  


You can report a concern about smoke, smell, dust, public health or any other issue using our report it form or by calling 01903 737755.


Garden bonfires

Bonfire smoke can be very irritating and cause great distress to those who are exposed to it, particularly to people with respiratory problems. Bonfires can cause a statutory nuisance to neighbours by preventing them from opening windows, hanging out washing, and enjoying their garden, as well as contributing to poor air quality locally. There are no local byelaws regarding bonfires. Some property covenants place restrictions on bonfires but these cannot normally be enforced by the Council. For more information on how we can help deal with nuisance from domestic bonfires please see our advisory Bonfire Leaflet.pdf [pdf] 273KB. If you would like to report an issue with a garden bonfire, please  use our  report it form  or call 01903 737755.


How to dispose of garden waste

We strongly recommend composting as the best way to dispose of garden waste. For more information please see RecycleNowLarge quantities of garden waste and bulky household items can be taken to your local  Household Waste Recycling Centres, which are operated by West Sussex County Council. Green waste taken to these centres will be shredded and turned into garden compost. Arun District Council's cleansing contractors offer a  garden waste collection service  from the boundary of the property, for a charge.


Smoke from chimneys

If smoke from chimneys of residential premises is unreasonable it can be dealt with as a nuisance. The Clean Air Act 1993 also enables local authorities to declare any part of their district as a "smoke control area". There are currently no smoke control areas within Arun. To find out how to burn without causing unnecessary air pollution A practical guide to using open fires and wood burning stoves, A guide to buying, storing and seasoning wood, videos and other guidance can be found at

Chimneys serving certain furnaces in trade premises require approval under the Clean Air Act 1993. If you would like to report an issue with smoke from a chimney, please use our report it form or call 01903 737755.


Bonfires on commercial sites (including building demolition)

Open burning on commercial sites is generally prohibited by Waste Management Licensing Regulations 1994, enforced by the Environment Agency. However, the burning of clean wood on demolition sites is exempt from licensing, providing the wood is produced as a result of demolition work and is burned on the land where it is produced. There is a similar exemption for tree waste from landscape maintenance etc. However, if such burning is causing a statutory smoke nuisance to local residents, Environmental Health can take action to ensure the nuisance is abated. If you would like to report an issue with bonfires on commercial property, please  use our  report it form  or call 01903 737755.


Dark smoke

Under the Clean Air Act 1993, it is an offence to cause or permit emissions of "dark smoke" from industrial or trade premises (includes building & demolition). Burning can be deemed to have taken place (without witnessing a bonfire) if the materials that have been burnt on the premises are likely to give rise to dark smoke, e.g. cable, paint, etc. Cable burning is also a specific offence unless authorised.


Air quality alerts

airAlert is a service provided by the Sussex Air Quality Partnership that will send free messages to your mobile or home telephone, informing you of the predicted air quality in the area. It is targeted at people with respiratory health problems who may be affected by air pollution, and is designed to  warn people the day before or on the day that elevated air pollution is expected to occur. Please visit the airAlert website to sign up for the service. 


Local air quality management

Arun District Council has completed a review and assessment of local air quality as required by the Environment Act 1995 Part IV (see below for details). The Council has also joined with other Local Authorities in West Sussex to create a new, joint Air Quality Action Plan.  Please see the document ‘Breathing Better’ which is an up-to-date, partnership approach to improving air quality across West Sussex.

The review and assessment involved the identification of all pollutant sources for the following seven pollutants (as listed in the National Air Quality Strategy 2000): Benzene; 1,3 -Butadiene; Carbon monoxide; Lead; Nitrogen Dioxide; Particulates (PM10) and Sulphur dioxide.  The Government has set objective levels for each of the above pollutants, which must be achieved before a specified target date. Ozone has also been identified by the National Air Quality Strategy as being a pollutant of concern. However, pollutants which lead to the formation of ozone emitted from other countries influence ozone levels in the UK. Therefore, ozone reduction is being tackled on an international scale and not directly by local authorities.

Arun published Stage 1 of it's review and assessment in December 1998, which revealed Nitrogen Dioxide, PM10 and Sulphur Dioxide all to be significant and in need of further assessment. The main pollutant sources were found to include a number of road sections along the A259 and A27, and a roadstone coating process authorised under the Local Authority Air Pollution Control (LAPC) regime.

The combined Stage 2 and 3 assessment involved the use of models to predict future concentrations of the three pollutants identified in the stage one assessment. The results showed that for Nitrogen dioxide, PM10 and Sulphur dioxide, concentrations were likely to meet the objective levels within the specified target dates. Therefore it was not necessary for Arun District Council to declare any Air Quality Management Areas. This decision was upheld by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) following the submission of a report detailing the results of the assessment.

You can view or download the following Arun District Council reports:
Air Quality Review and Assessment Stage 1 Report.pdf [pdf] 81KB


Annual air quality reports

Between 2003 and 2015 Arun District Council undertook an Update and Screening Assessment (USA) of local air quality every third year to account for changes to air quality objectives, monitoring data and pollutant sources etc., since the Review and Assessment. The USAs did not identify any changes to local air quality which would lead to a risk of any of the air quality objectives being exceeded, and it was therefore not necessary to proceed with Detailed Assessments. In other years progress reports detail any monitoring data collected in the previous year, and summarise any new or potential local developments that are likely to have an impact on air quality. They are also useful for identifying potential areas of poor air quality at an early stage. From 2016 the reporting requirements changed. The Council will now produce an Annual Status Report every year reporting on air quality and any developments which may affect it. 


Sussex Air Quality Partnership

The Sussex Air Quality Partnership was formed in 1995 and is made up of representatives from District, Borough and City Councils in East and West Sussex, East and West Sussex County Councils, East Sussex Brighton and Hove and West Sussex Health Authorities, the Environment Agency, the University of Sussex and the University of Brighton.

The group has played a major role in providing a support network for all participating local authorities within Sussex, with their duties under Environment Act 1995 and the implementation of the UK Air Quality Strategy. Further information, including other Sussex local authority review and assessment reports, is available from the Sussex Air Quality Partnership.

Please see the attached  Sussex Air Pollution Monitoring Network Annual Report 2016.pdf [pdf] 563KB

Sussex local authorities have developed Sussex AQ Guidance V.1.1 2021.pdf [pdf] 1MB, which provides a consistent approach to the assessment of air quality impacts from planned developments.

The purpose of this guidance is to: provide Sussex-wide advice for developers and their consultants on how to assess and mitigate the impact that new developments may have on local air quality.

The Local Planning Authority expects developers to have followed this guidance and will require an air quality assessment where it deems air quality impacts from the development may be detrimental to the environment or people's health.


Monitoring pollutants

Nitrogen dioxide

Since 1993, Arun has monitored Nitrogen dioxide levels (as part of the UK Automatic Urban and Rural Air Quality Monitoring Networks) at 13 separate locations around the district. Diffusion tubes are set up and analysed on a monthly basis, giving concentrations of Nitrogen dioxide at both background and kerbside locations. There is also a regional automatic monitoring station at Lullington Heath in East Sussex, which is operated on behalf of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs . The station monitors and records hourly concentrations of ozone, nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide. Past and present data can be viewed and downloaded from the UK National Air Quality Archive .



Ozone was continuously monitored between 1995 and 1999, at Burpham near Arundel, for Arun District Council. This monitoring showed that Ozone levels in the Arun area are very comparable to those measured at Lullington Heath.


Road traffic

Emissions from road traffic contribute directly to poor air quality, on a local and national scale. In West Sussex, over 70 per cent of air pollution is produced by cars and vans, and up to 24,000 people die prematurely every year in Britain because of the effects of air pollution.

By burning fuel, road vehicles produce approximately one fifth of the UK's man-made Carbon dioxide emissions. Carbon dioxide is the most significant pollutant in contributing towards the "greenhouse effect" and global warming. More efficient driving and good vehicle maintenance can help towards reducing fuel consumption and emissions. 

The need for better transport choices and alternatives to the car, and the reduction of environmental impacts of transport are included in the main aims of the Local Transport Plan produced by West Sussex County Council. Detailed information regarding the effects of motor vehicle pollution, and advice on choosing and using a cleaner car, can be obtained from the Environmental Protection UK.

A jointly funded project to reduce emissions from idle engines waiting at level crossings has been undertaken by Arun District Council, West Sussex County Council and five local Parish Councils. All six level crossings within the district now display signs which encourage drivers to "Cut Engine, Cut Pollution".


Climate change

Global warming is the effect caused when the sun's heat is prevented from escaping the lower atmosphere due to the accumulation of certain gases. Gases such as Carbon dioxide, Methane, Nitrous oxides and CFC's - often referred to as "greenhouse gases" - trap the heat from the sun in a way similar to glass in a greenhouse. The trapped heat causes the temperature of the earth's surface to increase over time and is thought to be responsible for the process of "climate change".

Over the past years, dramatic fluctuations in climates around the world have led to increased disruption in weather patterns, causing severe drought, floods, storms and rising sea levels. This can have devastating effects for communities around the world, through the loss of crops, land, homes, habitats and species. In the UK, the 1990's were the hottest decade ever recorded, and over the last few years local flooding and rising sea levels have become more widespread. The UK Climate Impacts Programme (UKCIP) has predicted a reduction in summer rainfall of 8-23% and increases in winter rainfall of 6-22% for the South East.

The main contributor to "global warming" is carbon dioxide, which accounts for approximately 55% of the total greenhouse gases found in the atmosphere. It is produced when compounds containing carbon are burned, through activities which use oil, gas and coal - commonly referred to as "fossil fuels" - and the clearing and burning of forests.

Action is being taken at international level to reduce the extent and effects of climate change. In Kyoto 1997, developed countries signed up to the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change, with the EU proposing a 5.2% cut in carbon dioxide emissions by 2008-12 (from 1990 levels). The UK pledged to reduce emissions by 12.5%, and the current government has pledged to reduce emissions by 20% before 2010.

It has been estimated that a reduction of 60% of current emissions levels is required to stabilise levels of CO2 in the atmosphere and ensure that climate change does not increase further.


National air quality

National air quality statistics are included in the key environmental statistics published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) in the booklet The environment in your pocket.


Dust from construction sites

Nuisance dust emissions from construction and other civil engineering activities are a common and well recognised problem.  Fine particles from these sources are recognised as significant causes of pollution.  Owing to their small size, they can be carried even in light winds and may have an adverse effect on the local environment.  Dust can cause annoyance to neighbours by the soiling of property, in particular windows, cars and washing that has been hung out to dry.

Under Part III of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, emission of dust, fumes and other effluvia from construction sites can be identified as a statutory nuisance if prejudicial to health or a nuisance.  Control of a statutory nuisance is contained within section 80 and a local authority is under a mandatory duty to serve an abatement notice on the person responsible for the nuisance (or the owner or occupier of the premises) if it is satisfied that a statutory nuisance exists or is likely to recur.

It is a defence against action under Part III of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 for the person served with an abatement notice to show that they have employed the "best practicable means" to minimise the nuisance or to counteract its effects.  Dust and fine particle generation from construction and demolition activities can be substantially reduced through carefully selected mitigation techniques and effective management.  The most effective technique is to control dust at source and prevent it from coming airborne.