A post, that surely should be better for November?
Well given we are now coming into the summer months, it is more common for people to start a bonfire in the back garden to get rid of the green waste than you may think.
The short answer, is it is not illegal to have a garden bonfire. There is also no regulation of the times when one can be lit.
However, there are laws against the nuisance that such a fire can cause.
It is also a criminal offence to burn household waste that will cause pollution or harm to human health.
First off, Safety First
If you’re going to have a bonfire ensure you DO NOT leave the fire unattended.
It is surprising just how many calls Devon and Somerset Fire Service get from unattended bonfires that have burnt out of control because they weren’t being watched.
Even if the fire looks out, remember there are still hot embers that will and can cause the fire to relight and burn anything in its way.
Always keep a bucket of water or sand nearby and if you’ve got a hose pipe one of those as well. In the event of a fire becoming out of control, seconds count be prepared, even if it is just a small fire.
Can I burn household waste?
No. Burning household waste can cause pollution and release toxic chemicals into the air, it can also be a nuisance to your neighbours.
Household waste or domestic waste can be anything from a take away wrapper all the way through to tyres from a push bike that you only rode on once, or even treated wood from your children’s Wendy house.
The law is clear: Under section 79 part 3 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 it is a criminal offence to dispose of domestic waste in a manner which is likely to cause pollution or harm to human health.
I live near a busy road, can I still have a bonfire?
In this instance, the issue isn’t the fire, but the smoke that it projects.
If you live near a busy main road, and the smoke drifts across this you could well be fined for this.
I can burn my green waste though, right?
There are no laws stopping you from having a bonfire, however there are laws for the nuisance they can cause.
If you do decide to have a bonfire please ensure that what you’re going to burn is clean green garden waste, preferably dry so to avoid excess smoke.
Always check with your neighbours, just out of courtesy.
Torbay Councils stance on garden bonfires
On the Torbay Council website they have said:
There is no law prohibiting bonfires or regulating times when they can be lit, but they do cause annoyance and add to local air pollution so we would discourage their use for disposal of waste.
Overall it would be better if residents didn’t have a bonfire in their gardens and disposed of their waste in a more responsible manner.
Not only is their risk of the fire getting out of control but there is also the concern of nuisance that can be caused as a result.
Find your nearest recycling centre here
How can I report Air Pollution?
In the event that you do need to report Air Quality issues, we recommend contacting Torbay Council. This can be done on the council’s website at: https://www.torbay.gov.uk/asb-environment-and-nuisance/envirocrime/