Many families still choose to celebrate Bonfire Night at home in the privacy of their own garden. However, according to Environmental Protection UK , lighting up a bonfire should not be something that is done without careful thought and consideration for the environment. Burning garden waste produces smoke – especially if the waste is green or damp.
This will emit harmful pollutants including particles and dioxins causing air pollution. Burning plastic, rubber or painted materials is even worse, since noxious fumes are created which can give off a range of poisonous compounds. Air pollution can have damaging health effects, and people with existing health problems are especially vulnerable, e.g. asthmatics, bronchitis sufferers, people with heart conditions, children and the elderly. In addition smoke, smuts and smell from bonfires have long been a source of a significant number of complaints to local authorities every year. Smoke prevents neighbours from enjoying their gardens, opening windows or hanging washing out, and reduces visibility in the neighbourhood and on roads.
Allotments near homes can cause problems if plot holders persistently burn green waste, and leave fires smouldering. And of course there are important safety issues to consider, fire can spread to fences or buildings and scorch trees and plants. Exploding bottles and cans are a hazard when rubbish is burned. Finally piles of garden waste are often used as a refuge by animals, so look out for hibernating wildlife and sleeping pets before any matches are struck.
That said, and contrary to popular belief there are no specific byelaws prohibiting garden bonfires or specifying times they can be lit. However, this is not a license for indiscriminate burning! Here are some tips on how to enjoy a safe bonfire this Guy Fawkes!
- Warn your neighbours – they are much less likely to complain if you tell them in advance that you are planning a bonfire-
- Only burn dry material
- 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 www.airquality.co.uk
- 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