Bonfires have been a means of disposing of domestic and garden waste for many years. However bonfires can be irritating to your neighbours. Not only will it add to the general background level of air pollution, but residents who suffer from chest problems may be affected by the smoke.
The Council does not encourage burning of waste as there are many alternatives to having a bonfire, including composting and recycling.
To prevent your bonfire becoming a nuisance:
- Limit the smoke by burning only dry material;
- Never burn household rubbish or rubber tyres, or use oil to light the fire;
- Never light a fire in unsuitable weather conditions - smoke hangs in the air on damp still days and in the evening;
- Never burn when the wind will carry the smoke over the roads or other people's property;
- Avoid burning at weekends and on Bank Holidays when people want to enjoy their gardens;
- Never leave a fire unattended or leave it to smoulder - douse it with water if necessary.
Where the Council is satisfied there is a statutory nuisance caused by a bonfire, action can be taken under the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Private individuals are also able to take their own action through the magistrates' court.
Suffering from smoke nuisance?
In some cases an informal approach may solve the problem:
- Talk to your neighbours and let them know that their bonfires are causing a nuisance - they may be unaware of the problem if no-one else has complained;
- Suggest a solution such as an appropriate time when they can have the occasional bonfire, which will cause you least nuisance, or suggest a suitable alternative;
- Allow your neighbours reasonable time to make the necessary arrangements to prevent the nuisance.
Commercial bonfires are only permitted in a small number of situations. This is usually not an acceptable method of disposing of commercial waste. The majority of commercial waste disposal operations are licensed and managed by The Environment Agency.