Air pollution in Dudley Borough is a significant issue, Garden Bonfires can make it worse.
Burning garden waste produces smoke and pollutants which can damage the environment and can be harmful to health. Burning rubber, plastic or painted materials not only creates unpleasant smells but also emits a cocktail of potentially poisonous chemicals into the air.
Rather than burning your garden waste consider composting or using the free Dudley MBC Garden Waste Collection service (green wheelie bins or bulk collection).
Brief exposure to bonfire emissions is unlikely to have a long-term detrimental effect on health, however, frequent exposure may adversely affect persons suffering from asthma, bronchitis, heart conditions, the elderly and children.
It’s a common misconception that the Council has specific bye-laws which prohibit burning. (For instance it’s ok to light a bonfire after 6:00pm, it isn’t and there aren’t). Even though bonfires are not banned in Dudley Borough they should be avoided to prevent complaints about smoke.
Under the Highways Act 1980 a person responsible for lighting a fire which causes smoke to drift across a road faces a fine if it endangers traffic. (Please contact the Police for further information if these circumstances arise).
Dudley Council receives a significant number of complaints concerning smoke, smell and ash due to bonfires, over 200 in 2006. Bonfires can interfere with normal daily activities including enjoying gardens, hanging out washing or opening windows, this can result in serious neighbour disputes.
If you are bothered by smoke consider approaching the person having the fire, however, you should only adopt this approach if you consider you are not placing your own personal safety at risk. Where a neighbour is causing a problem by burning and the matter cannot be resolved amicably, the law is on your side. Under the provisions of the Environmental Protection Act (EPA) 1990, a statutory nuisance includes “smoke, fumes, or gases emitted from premises so as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance”. In practise a bonfire would have to be occurring on a regular basis and interfering substantially with your well being, comfort or enjoyment of your property to be judged as causing a statutory nuisance under the provisions of the EPA 1990.
The risk of causing a statutory nuisance by having a bonfire can be reduced if the guidelines below can be strictly adhered to:
There are other reasons why waste materials should be disposed of in ways other than burning. As well as reasons concerning health, amenity and the environment fire can also easily spread to fences or buildings as well as scorching trees and plants. Exploding cans and bottles can be a hazard when rubbish is burnt. Piles of garden waste are often utilised as a refuge by animals, so look out for hibernating wildlife and sleeping pets!
The Council’s advice to you remains try to compost or dispose of waste materials by means other than burning.
To report a nuisance bonfire or for further information regarding bonfires, please contact us as per the details below.