'Avoid having bonfires' - New lock down advice for Sidmouth residents

By The Editor

8th Apr 2020 | Local News

Stock image of a bonfire. Picture courtesy of Min An.
Stock image of a bonfire. Picture courtesy of Min An.

People in Sidmouth are being asked to 'avoid having any bonfires' while the coronavirus lock down rules remain in place.

East Devon District Council has issued the advice after receiving numerous enquiries from residents, both from people complaining about bonfires and from residents looking to have a bonfire safely.

The council is advising people to cut up their woody garden waste and store it safely for the next few months. Green or recently cut garden waste should not be burned until is is dried out.

A spokesperson for East Devon District Council said: "We receive many enquiries about bonfires, both from people affected by them and from people wanting to do the right thing.

"Bonfire smoke can be very irritating and it may cause temporary local air pollution issues.

"Some people can be sensitive to smoke and we therefore discourage any burning which might cause smoke drifting onto nearby properties.

"All garden waste can be composted at home. Please note that our Green Waste service is currently suspended and recycling centres are currently closed."

There are no laws prohibiting bonfires altogether, or specifying times when you can burn, but there are laws which might apply if the smoke causes a nuisance.

There are specific regulations which apply to waste generated as a result of a commercial activity, or waste that will cause dark or black smoke. None of these materials can be disposed of by burning.

If you need to report an incident relating to the burning of commercial or agricultural waste, please contact the Environment Agency. Anyone lighting a fire and allowing smoke to drift across a road faces a fine of up to £2000, and concerns about highway safety should be reported to the Police.

Bonfires are not the best disposal method for waste and having a bonfire should be a last resort. If you have ruled out all other disposal methods and the only way is to have a bonfire, please consider the following:


-Inform your neighbours

-Burn only during the day

-Locate the bonfire as far away from neighbours as possible

-Have a small fire – it must be controllable and hot enough to burn with minimal smoke

-Consider the weather – ideally no wind or a light breeze, blowing away from nearby houses.

-Monitor changes in the wind/smoke direction

-Only burn suitable materials – Materials must be dry - this will burn quickly and give off minimal smoke and smell. You may be able to burn dry garden waste, clean wood, paper or card

-Supervise the burning of waste - do not leave it unattended

-Have water available to extinguish the fire


-Have many bonfires – neighbours are more likely to complain if you often have bonfires

-Burn the following: household rubbish, rubber, oil, green garden waste, animal bedding, plastic, tyres, foam or paint - these can produce potentially toxic dark smoke which is unacceptable and might be an offence.

-Leave a fire unattended or leave it to smoulder - douse it with water if necessary and make sure it is out and will not continue to smoke once left

-Use an accelerant to light a fire - oil, petrol or methylated spirits could cause harm to yourself and the environment

-Burn furniture - it is likely to emit significant dark smoke and toxic pollutants

-Burn at weekends or bank holidays - when people want to enjoy their homes and gardens

-Burn during foggy conditions – the smoke will not be able to disperse

Complaining about a bonfire

If you are affected by a problem of bonfire smoke, you may consider the following options:

-Approach your neighbour first - explain the problem to them. You might find this awkward, but they may not be aware of the problem and it may make them more considerate when planning and lighting a bonfire in the future. If you aren't able to talk to them, perhaps put a note through their door explaining the problem.

-If this approach fails – contact the Environmental Health service by filling in an on-line form or emailing [email protected]. You can ring us on 01395 517456.

If you would like to find out more about how avoid catching or spreading the Coronavirus click here.


New sidmouth Jobs Section Launched!!
Vacancies updated hourly!!
Click here: sidmouth jobs


Related Articles

County Hall, Exeter (LDRS)
Local News

Children in care in Devon surpasses 900 as budget pressures bite

Christmas lights in Sidmouth (Sidmouth Town Council)
Local News

Annual Christmas lights switch-on coming up in Sidmouth this weekend


To enter just subscribe to our FREE Stockport NubNews Newsletter.
Every subscriber will be automatically entered into our competition.
Deadline 31 March 2024.

Already subscribed? Thank you. Just press X or click here.
By clicking the Subscribe button you agree to our
Privacy Policy and Competition terms and conditions.