Bonfires during the Covid-19 pandemic

It has always been the advice of Horsham District Council that uncontrolled (open) burning should not take place. This predates the current situation, and will continue to be so.

Having a bonfire is not prohibited, but it is controlled. There are good health based reasons why any materials, whether garden waste or not, should not be burnt even in largely rural areas, because of its contribution to diffuse air pollution. However, having a bonfire is not a statutory nuisance in itself; the nuisance is the emission (or likely emission) of smoke from a fire and how this affects another person’s enjoyment of their property.

Neither the number of nor absence of complaints, nor the distance from neighbours is relevant to the judgement of nuisance but may become relevant if proceedings were to follow. For cases where the fire has not yet been lit, there will be no complaints of smoke. However officers can still act if they are satisfied the scale and/or nature of materials to be burnt are likely to cause nuisance.

Garden waste, paper, or any other waste should not be burned, under any circumstances. Everyone should be mindful of their neighbours and fellow community members. The smoke and smells from bonfires can aggravate respiratory problems such as asthma and bronchitis and affect those with heart complaints and this is particularly an issue given that Coronavirus attacks the respiratory system.

The disposal of waste or other materials by burning is not the only way in which such items can be disposed of and these options should be exhausted before burning is considered. Garden waste can be composted or put into a garden waste bin for collection, alternatively keep it in a safe place until it can be taken to the tip or have it collected by a collection service. The Horsham District Council website and social media are updated regularly with kerbside collection information and general waste can continue to be put into the refuse bin.

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