Bonfires a Bone of Contention?
It is interesting that the origins of the word ‘bonfire’ is believed to be derived from the Celtic custom of burning the bones of the cattle which were slaughtered. In modern times, bonfires can be a bone of contention between residents as what is reasonable and what is excessive.
The government have produced useful guidance on bonfires, safety and the law which provides helpful tips and seeks to clarify the legal position – see HERE . However, there aren’t any specific laws against having a bonfire, but there are several laws that deal with the nuisance bonfires can cause. It is an offence to get rid of domestic waste in a way likely to cause pollution or harm to human health, including burning it. Burning plastic, rubber or painted materials creates poisonous fumes and can have damaging health effects for people who have asthmatic or heart conditions.
Most bonfires are relatively infrequent and cause little concern. However, for a bonfire to be considered a nuisance, it needs to be a regular occurrence and to seriously interfere with your well-being. If the bonfire is only occasional, eg a couple of times a year, it’s unlikely to be considered a nuisance in law.
If the council considers a bonfire to be a nuisance, it can issue an ‘abatement notice’. This notice may mean the householder must stop having bonfires completely. If they do not stick to the notice they face a fine of up to £5,000 and a further £500 for each day they don’t comply.
Smoke and bonfire problems can be reported to the Council at havering.gov.uk.
Cllr Clarence Barrett