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Staggering increase in complaints about bonfires and reminder ahead of May bank holiday weekend of health hazard during coronavirus outbreak

'Smoke inhalation can impair breathing'

SINCE‎ the start of the Covid 19 pandemic to the beginning of May, the Public Protection Partnership has seen a 622 per cent increase in bonfire complaints over the same period last year (from 32 complaints to 231).

The PPP is a shared service delivering environmental health, licensing and Trading Standards across Bracknell Forest, West Berkshire and Wokingham Borough Councils.

Before the first May bank holiday, West Berkshire Council posted that they had noticed that more residents were lighting bonfires. The council said: "We urge you to think of others and please do not be tempted to light bonfires at home in the garden or in public spaces such as allotments. A lot of people at home are vulnerable and any one of your neighbours might have respiratory issues or even be fighting Covid-19.

"Smoke inhalation can impair breathing so during this difficult time please put their needs first."

The PPP has issued the following guidance on bonfire advice:

"Right now, we are asking residents across the districts/boroughs to think of others and not light bonfires during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic lockdown because many people at home are vulnerable and may have respiratory issues, or even be fighting the coronavirus itself. During this difficult time we are asking that their needs are put first.

"We are also urging people to consider alternative means of disposal of waste as burning in close proximity to other properties is always a potential source of nuisance.

"For instance, if the job can’t wait until the civic amenity sites re-open, green waste can be composted or stockpiled at home.

"Bonfires can also get out of control or cause accidents, creating extra pressure on the already busy emergency services.

"While there are no laws against having a domestic bonfire there are laws about causing a nuisance. The smoke or the smell of smoke from bonfires can cause a statutory nuisance under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

"We would consider taking formal action under the above legislation if a number of justified complaints were received about the burning.

"If sufficient evidence is gathered and the council is satisfied that a statutory nuisance exists then an enforcement notice may be served to prohibit the recurrence of the nuisance. A breach of this notice may result in a fine."

To report an incident of a bonfire, visit www.publicprotectionpartnership.org.uk/environmental-health/neighbourhood-concerns/smoke-and-bonfires

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