Domestic Bonfires Introduction Every year the Environmental Protection service receives a large number of complaints about bonfires causing a repeated nuisance. Such problems need never arise if due consideration is shown to neighbours. This leaflet explains the law and gives some suggestions to help prevent a nuisance being caused. Garden Waste Most nuisance complaints arise from the burning of garden waste. Facilities are available avoiding the need for a bonfire – small amounts of garden waste can be put out with the normal refuse while larger items can be taken direct to your local disposal tips at Shaftesbury and Blandford Forum [Open 09:00 – 18:00 1st April to 31st Oct 09:00 – 17:00 1st Nov to 31st March]. Composting is a better way of dealing with garden waste. Not only does it remove the problem, but it turns it into a useful soil conditioner. [Links to composting pages on website] Other Waste As well as garden rubbish there are other waste materials which should not be burned. You should avoid bonfires for anything which could be put out with normal household rubbish. Plastics, polystyrene, rubber and other synthetic materials can create a serious hazard if burned, producing thick black smoke and toxic fumes. Bulky items, such as furniture, will be specially collected by the Council for a small fee by telephoning 01258 484246 DO’S and DON’TS It is important to consider your neighbours before lighting bonfires in your garden. They contribute to local air pollution and cause nuisance from smoke and odour. If you feel you must have a bonfire you should read the following DO’S and DON’TS: DO advise your nearest neighbours before you light a bonfire so they can be prepared for any minor inconvenience that may arise. DO burn material quickly in small quantities so the minimum amount of smoke is created. DO choose your bonfire site carefully, well away from trees, fences and windows. Beware of attempting bonfires on very windy days as it can easily get out of control. Have a hose-pipe or buckets of water handy just in case. DON’T burn damp grass clippings or other ‘green’ material as this creates thick smoke. DON’T burn any oily rags, rubber, plastics, damp garden waste or other materials which would inevitably create heavy smoke or toxic fumes DON’T light a bonfire when your neighbours have washing drying, or are out enjoying their gardens or have windows wide open. DON’T light bonfires one hour before dusk, or leave them burning overnight. Choose the time of day and weather conditions that will cause the least inconvenience to neighbours. Contrary to popular belief, evenings are rarely a good time for bonfires as atmospheric conditions can cause smoke to hang in the air for most of the night. DON’T leave your fire to smoulder for long periods. Never leave a fire unattended. Hose it down until cold before you leave it. The Law Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, the Council has a duty to investigate complaints about bonfires that become a regular problem and cause a ‘Statutory Nuisance’. If the Council is satisfied that a bonfire does amount to a Statutory Nuisance, or is likely to occur again and cause a Statutory Nuisance then the Council must serve a legal document called an Abatement Notice, on the person responsible for the nuisance. This enables the Council to take such action that it feels is appropriate to prevent the problem recurring. Failure to comply with such a notice renders the person responsible liable for prosecution with fines up to £5,000 (£20,000 if on business or trade premises). If you would like further information, please contact Environmental Protection Service on 01258 484246.
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