Monday, February 04, 2008

PROF'S POSER - Burning questions

As a result of this blog post, and subsequent comments, I was wondering if anyone knew what the rules on burning domestic waste actually were?

1 comment:

Dave said...

South Derbyshire's rules (taken direct from their website) appear to be pretty typical (of course, it may be very different for city councils):-


Bonfires are often used by people on residential or trade premises as a means to dispose of waste. However, apart from the nuisance to others from the smoke, they produce large amounts of pollution. There really is no reason to have a bonfire when there is such access to amenity site facilities. Note that there are different rules in relation to bonfires on residential properties and trade premises (residential building sites are classed as trade premises for these rules).

FAQs relating to bonfires:

What are the rules relating to garden bonfires?
There are no specific rules or bye-laws relating to garden bonfires. Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 a 'statutory nuisance' includes smoke, fumes or gases emitted from a premises so as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance.

In practice this will mean that if the bonfire affects another property either from smoke, debris, ash or fumes coming into the building or garden then it could constitute a nuisance.

In determining a Statutory Nuisance the Pollution Team will consider:-

* the frequency of the bonfires
* the effect on neighbours, for example the intensity of the smoke and the smell
* the nature of the bonfire, including material burnt
* its location in relation to nearby premises
* weather conditions including wind direction
* the extent to which the use and enjoyment of neighbouring properties are affected

There are no specific times of the day when it is acceptable or not to have a bonfire. The Pollution Control Team does not recommend that anyone should have a bonfire, as there are safer and more environmentally friendly ways of disposing of garden refuse.

Why shouldn't I have a bonfire?

Smoke from a bonfire contains numerous pollutants including carbon monoxide, dioxins, hydrocarbons and particles. The burning of plastics, painted products, rubber products etc will also generate a further range of poisonous compounds.

All of these pollutants can have a damaging effect on health, although serious harm is unlikely for short term exposure. Some of the most annoying factors from bonfires include the smoke affecting washing, coming into houses, not being able to enjoy your garden on a nice day, smoke reducing visibility on roads and the potential danger of the fire spreading to other areas.

What if I want to have a bonfire?
If you would still wish to have a bonfire then the following guidelines are provided to try and prevent a nuisance being cause:-

* Ensure that the material is dry.
* Speak to your neighbours to make sure they do not have any washing out or windows open.
* Do not burn any general household rubbish, plastics, rubber, painted wood or any foam etc.
* Ensure that the weather conditions are favourable. The wind will take the smoke away from other properties and try not to burn if the smoke is likely to hang around at ground level, such as damp, still days or in the evening.
* Do not allow the fire to continue to smoulder for a long period of time.
* Always stay with the fire so that if the smoke etc becomes a problem then you can put it out.
* Do not use anything to encourage the fire to start, such as oil, petrol, diesel etc.

What are the rules for bonfires on industrial or trade premises?
There are slightly different rules in relation to bonfires from trade premises. In addition to the rules for Statutory Nuisance applying there is also the following:-

The Clean Air Act 1993 prohibits dark or black smoke being emitted from a bonfire on trade or industrial premises. The provisions are absolute, subject to specific exceptions for prescribed materials.

Failure to comply with the provisions of the Clean Air Act 1993 can result, on conviction, of a penalty of up to a maximum of £20,000.