Councils on both sides of the Humber are calling on households to think of their neighbours and avoid lighting bonfires during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It follows an influx of concerns raised across the country and locally of problems caused by bonfire smoke for people with breathing difficulties and those suffering with coronavirus.
Aside from the obvious risk of fire spread to other areas of the garden, bonfire smoke can have a harmful effect on people with health problems such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis. It also causes significant problems for people suffering with coronavirus symptoms.
Cllr Ron Shepherd, North East Lincs Council portfolio holder for safer and stronger communities, said:
“If you’re thinking of having a bonfire, please don’t. More people are following the government’s advice and staying at home. People staying inside their homes are advised to keep their windows open to get some fresh air, so please spare a thought for those with respiratory problems or coronavirus symptoms.
“We need people to think about their neighbours and how they might suffer if you light a bonfire in your garden or allotment, even barbecue smoke could create problems for those nearby.
“We can take enforcement action against those who light bonfires regularly and cause a nuisance to their neighbours.”
It is not an offence to light a garden bonfire. It is however an offence under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to cause a statutory smoke nuisance and there are clearly significant fire risks as explained by Chief Fire Officer Chris Blacksell:
‘Bonfires can quickly burn out of control, especially in high wind, and can set light to sheds, fences, trees or even the home itself. During these unprecedented times, please consider your neighbours and avoid bonfires if at all possible.
"Call outs to bonfires, whether attended or otherwise, are often an unnecessary strain on our service. I am sure the public would want our crews ready and able to respond to a life threatening emergency call rather than be tied up at someone burning garden waste.’
The burning of anything other than dry garden waste is prohibited in law. You could also be fined if you light a fire and allow the smoke to drift across the road and become a danger to traffic. For full guidelines see the gov.uk website
A statutory nuisance happens when smoke causes unreasonable interference with a person’s use or enjoyment of their property. Smoke nuisance can occur at any time of the day or night.
Please use the Council’s online form at www.nelincs.gov.uk/report-it to report bonfires that are causing a statutory nuisance.
It’s much better for your neighbours and the environment to compost garden waste instead of burning it.
TIPS FOR DEALING WITH GARDEN WASTE
- Sign up for garden waste collections at www.nelincs.gov.uk/gardenwaste
- Leave your lawn for longer before you mow it
- Let the grass grow to create a mini meadow – it’s great for wildlife
- Make a mulch with your grass clippings
- Make compost at home and give yourself a free supply of nutrient-rich soil
- Spread out grass cuttings to dry for a few days before putting in your green bin – this avoids making the bin heavy and reduces any smells from rotting.
- If you are cutting back trees and bushes, use the branches as supports for other plants later in the year.
In the East Riding, the local authority is warning about unauthorised waste carriers who are operating at the moment.
They are asking residents to be responsible and kindly keep hold of waste they would normally take to the tip for the time being.
Bulky waste collections are still running for now in the East Riding and they are booked online. The charges are as follows:
£31 for between 1 and 5 items
£62 for between 6 and 10 items.
Garden waste can be placed in brown bins, East Riding are still collecting.
In Hull, bulky item collections have also been suspended as a precaution to ensure the 3 bin system remains operational. The situation will be kept under review in the event that it results in an adverse response.
Hull City Council has also reprioritised resource allocation to focus on swift fly-tip removal as a precaution.