Air pollution complaints

Coronavirus – No burning or garden bonfires 

Residents across the borough are being asked to think of others and not light bonfires during the current pandemic.

It is important to be considerate at this time, as people are spending more time at home and unable to escape unpleasant fumes.Bonfires can also become out of control or cause accidents, creating extra pressure on the already busy emergency services.

The coronavirus is known to cause serious respiratory illnesses. Therefore, the Environmental Protection team will continue to investigate complaints about smoke nuisance during this period, including visits where appropriate.

Garden bonfires

Bonfires can be a nuisance - the smoke, soot and smells they cause are the subject of many complaints. Smoke can ruin residents' enjoyment of their property, preventing them from opening windows, hanging washing out and can prevent them enjoying being in their own garden.

If done carefully, the occasional bonfire should not cause a major problem, so an outright ban on bonfires would be unreasonable. However, under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, it is an offence to cause a statutory nuisance, and this can include nuisances created by regular bonfires.

Instead of burning

Rather than burn garden waste, we recommend more environmentally friendly ways of disposal, such as recycling, composting or shredding.

If you must burn

If you must burn, the following advice may help you to prevent causing a nuisance to neighbours;

  • Only burn dry material, wet fires produce more smoke
  • Keep fires small and controllable
  • Never burn household rubbish, rubber tyres or anything containing plastic, foam or paint
  • Avoid lighting a fire in unsuitable weather conditions – smoke hangs in the air on damp, still days. If it is too windy, smoke blows into neighbours' gardens and windows and across roads
  • Avoid burning when air pollution levels in your area are high or very high. You can check air quality on 0800 556677 or at UK Air Quality Archive
  • Keep your fire away from trees, fences and buildings
  • Never use oil, petrol or methylated spirits to light a fire – you could damage yourself as well as the environment
  • Never leave a fire unattended or leave it to smolder – put it out

Making a complaint

You may wish to approach your neighbours if you are bothered by persistent bonfire smoke. They may be genuinely unaware that their actions are affecting you. We are aware that it’s not always practical or possible, for whatever reason, to speak to your neighbour or you may have tried this approach and it hasn’t worked. In this instance you can email or phone 0300 123 5015 to register a complaint. Please note in order to investigate the complaint we require the location of the bonfire.

Muck spreading

We are unable to deal with complaints about the smell of spreading manure (muck spreading) on land. We may get involved if the smell carries on for long periods of time or smells stronger than expected.

The spreading of sewage sludge (bio solids) is lawful and deemed the best environmental option for use of treated sewage sludge. There may be an odour, for short spells of time, while the sludge is moved, stored or spread onto fields.

The smell can be offensive but does not a create a statutory odour nuisance taking into account all other factors.

We understand that muck spreading can be odorous often coinciding with finer weather. However, it is nationally recognised that this practice is necessary in a controlled way, part of these controls prevent spreading at certain times and certain conditions, both weather and land. This restricts the spreading window.

Farmers are asked to follow best practice when spreading muck on their fields.

Due to the nitrogen controls it is unlikely that the field will be spread again in the near future.

Contact us

0300 123 5015

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