Stop and think before lighting a bonfire

 Slough Borough Council is asking residents to stop and consider their neighbours before lighting a bonfire to get rid of garden waste.

With green fingered gardeners tidying up their gardens in time for spring, the number of bonfires being lit to burn green waste also increases. Whilst there is no legislation stating that bonfires cannot be lit, they can cause a problem when smoke and smells disturb neighbours and stop them from enjoying their gardens.

The problem with bonfires is that they can:

  • add to air pollution
  • produce smoke, especially if it is damp
  • create an unpleasant smell and produce a range of poisonous compounds, especially if burning plastic, rubber or painted materials
  • cause detrimental health side effects
  • cause problems for asthmatics, bronchitis sufferers, people with heart conditions and children
  • cause annoyance to your neighbours and prevent them enjoying their garden
  • result in a fire spreading to fences or buildings if left unattended.

Richard Palacio from the council’s neighbourhood enforcement team said: “With spring approaching and gardeners waiting impatiently to cut lawns and trim hedges, thoughts turn to how this waste is going to be disposed of. Whilst some residents dispose of green waste using their green bins, others burn it in a bonfire causing considerable annoyance to their neighbours.

“At this time of the year we get an increase in the number of residents calling to complain about bonfires. Whilst the council does not recommend lighting bonfires to dispose of garden waste, if you are going to do it, please consider your neighbours and follow a few simple rules to minimise the nuisance.”

If householders don’t have a green bin for garden waste or it’s not possible to take the green waste to a local waste amenity site, residents can minimise causing a nuisance to neighbours by doing the following:

  • only burn dry material
  • never burn household rubbish, rubber tyres or anything containing plastic
  • don’t add any liquids i.e. petrol or barbecue fuel to assist to light or revive a bonfire
  • avoid lighting a bonfire in unsuitable weather conditions – smoke hangs in the air on damp still days
  • be considerate to your neighbours – if it’s windy, smoke may be blown into neighbours gardens and across roads
  • avoid burning when air pollution in your area is high or very high – check the weather forecast
  • make a compost from your garden waste
  • keep the bonfire to a manageable size and don’t leave it unattended
  • always check the bonfire before lighting – no animals, children, aerosols, fireworks or other
  • hazardous materials which may explode or give off toxic fumes.