‘Sheffield please stop burning’: Calls for bonfires to be scrapped during coronavirus lockdown

A combination of glorious weather and the coronavirus lockdown has led to people spending a lot more time in their gardens over recent days.

Monday, 30th March 2020, 2:25 pm
Updated Friday, 3rd April 2020, 11:00 am

For many gardeners that means more green waste to dispose of – and while some are able to compost their clippings, others usually rely on green bin collections or waste and recycling centres.

These services have been affected by the restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, meaning more people it seems are opting to burn their garden waste on a bonfire.

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There have been a number of complaints about bonfires in Sheffield over recent days (pic: Andrew Roe Photography)

In Sheffield, green bin collections have been suspended and although dumps remained open as of Friday, March 27, people have been advised to use them only where waste disposal is ‘essential and unavoidable’.

Numerous complaints about neighbours lighting bonfires in their back gardens have begun popping up on Facebook in recent days – with many understandably concerned about the impact on the air they are breathing given COVID-19 is a respiratory disease.

The campaign group Clean Air For Sheffield revealed that air pollution has actually risen since the lockdown began, despite there being little traffic on the roads.

“SHEFFIELD please stop the burning! Our lungs have enough to worry about right now. No bonfires. No wood burning. Please. At least until this is over.”

There are no laws against having a bonfire but there are laws concerning the nuisance they can cause.

The Government states that you cannot get rid of household waste, including by burning it, if it will cause pollution or harm people’s health.

It advises people to dispose of household or garden waste by composting or recycling it and advises that you could be fined it you light a fire and allow the smoke to drift across the road and become a danger to traffic.

If a neighbour’s bonfire is causing a nuisance the council can issue an abatement notice, though a bonfire must happen frequently for it to be considered a nuisance.

Your neighbour can be fined up to £5,000 for failing to follow the rules of that notice.