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Garden bonfires

Bonfires are an easy way of disposing of garden waste, however they are not always the most safe or practical.

What are the alternatives to garden bonfires?

Composting

Rather than burning garden wastes, or other wastes, composting the wastes can provide a useful soil conditioner. Woody wastes can be shredded to make it suitable for composting or mulching. Shredding equipment can be hired from local plant hire firms. Alternatively garden wastes can be disposed of by taking it to the Household Waste and Recycling Centre at Great Northern Terrace.

Recycling

Household wastes should not be burned on a bonfire. Recycling materials that cannot be placed in your brown bin can sometimes be donated to local charities. Find more advice on how to get rid of bulky items such as furniture by reading our ‘removal of bulky items’ page.

Annoyance to neighbours

If you are bothered by persistent bonfires that interfere substantially with your well being, enjoyment and comfort of your property then the law is there to help. Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 smoke from bonfires can cause a statutory nuisance and our team can take action to stop the nuisance.

What should I do if I am experiencing problems with a neighbour’s bonfire?

In the first instance, wherever possible, approach your neighbour and explain your problem. It may be that they are unaware of the distress they are causing and hopefully the problem can be resolved amicably. If having approached your neighbour the problem persists fill in our online form

Our team will then investigate your complaint, please bear in mind that occasional bonfires are very rarely considered to be a ‘statutory nuisance’ and so we may not be able to take legal action in this case.

General advice

Occasionally, if appropriate care is taken, a bonfire may be a practical way of disposing of garden wastes. It all depends where you live in relation to others and what you are burning. If you intend to have a bonfire, the following steps may help in minimising disturbance to your neighbours:

  • DO advise your neighbours before lighting a bonfire so they can be prepared for any minor inconvenience that may arise. Try and avoid burning at the weekends or bank holidays when people are more likely to enjoying their gardens
  • DO check weather conditions to make sure that smoke from a bonfire will not affect your neighbours
  • DO choose your site carefully, well away from trees, fences and windows. Beware of lighting bonfires on very windy days as they can easily get out of control. Remember to have buckets of water or a hose reel available just in case
  • DO NOT burn damp grass or clippings or green cuttings as this creates thick smoke. Burn dry materials whenever possible
  • DO NOT burn plastic, rubber or painted materials as these can create not only unpleasant odours but also toxic fumes. Do not use oil, petrol or diesel to light a fire
  • DO burn materials in small quantities and add to the fire rather than having one large heap. It will be easier to control or extinguish if problems arise
  • DO NOT leave a bonfire unattended or allow it to smoulder for hours
  • DO check the bonfire before lighting for hibernating wildlife or sleeping pets
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