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Bonfires and Fireworks

Our Environmental Protection Team has experienced a rise in complaints about garden bonfires causing smoke nuisance to neighbours.  We understand that we are all keen to keep busy at this very difficult time and that gardening is a really great way to keep active and something many people enjoy.  We also understand that with restrictions in movement and the suspension of the garden waste collection service it is more difficult to dispose of garden waste at the moment.  We are asking everyone to please store their garden waste at home in the garden for the time being rather than burn it in the garden.  The smoke causes distress to your neighbours and can cause serious problems for people who are most vulnerable to both smoke and COVID-19 such as those with asthma and other respiratory conditions, due to the current rules on movements of people they cannot escape the smoke.

Please be aware that Environmental Protection Officers are still working and will take enforcement action against people causing smoke nuisance where necessary, but we really hope that you will understand this request for everyone to be as considerate to each other as they possibly can at this time and help make life as least stressful for each other as possible.

Fireworks are dangerous and if you are planning to hold your own display there are many important things to consider. You need to make sure you set up your display safely, making sure you follow the fireworks code. Fireworks cause a large increase in pollution due to the mixture of chemicals used in their production. All fireworks use gunpowder a side effect of which is the production of sulphur and carbon dioxide, although fireworks produce much less pollution than bonfires.

The rules

  • ban air bombs and nuisance rockets
  • restrict the sale of fireworks from unlicensed traders (from 1 January 2005)
  • make the possession by under 18s of fireworks illegal
  • prohibit the use of fireworks after 11.00pm (restrictions apply which include New Year and the preceding three days, 15 Oct - 10 Nov Bonfire Celebrations, Chinese New Year and the preceding three days and Diwali and the preceding three days)

Enforcement Agencies including the Police and Trading Standards have the responsibility for enforcing the regulations which can lead to fines.

The Firework Code

  • light sparklers one at a time and wear gloves
  • never give sparklers to a child under 5
  • only buy fireworks marked BS-7114
  • keep fireworks in a closed box
  • follow the instructions on each firework
  • light them at arm's length using a taper
  • stand well back
  • never go back to a lit firework
  • never put fireworks in your pocket
  • never throw fireworks
  • Keep pets indoors

Safety advice for running your own firework display

Before the display

  • check the fireworks you buy are suitable for the size of garden and conform to British Standards (BS 7114)
  • ensure your display area is free from hazards
  • do not tamper with the fireworks
  • read instructions in daylight
  • warn neighbours (especially the elderly and those with animals) about your display
  • decide on one person to be responsible for the fireworks

What you will need on the night

  • metal box, with a lid for storage
  • torch for checking instructions
  • bucket of water
  • protective clothing (hat, gloves & eye protection)
  • first Aid kit
  • bucket of soft earth to stick fireworks in
  • a non flammable board for flat bottomed fireworks
  • suitable supports for Catherine wheels
  • proper launchers for rockets

During the display

  • light fireworks at arm's length with a taper
  • stand well back
  • never go back to a lit firework
  • keep storage box closed between use
  • keep children under control

Sparklers

  • are unsuitable for children under five
  • should only be lit one at a time
  • hold at arm's length
  • always wear gloves
  • make sure before you light a sparkler you have a bucket of water or sand to douse the hot end

After the display

  • Collect up spent fireworks using tongs or gloves
  • next morning check again for firework debris

If you are bothered by a bonfire or fireworks display, you can approach your neighbour and explain the problem. You might feel awkward, but they may not be aware of the distress they are causing and it will hopefully make them more considerate in the future.

If you find it difficult to approach your neighbour you may be able to get advice from West Kent Mediation Service, who can help resolve neighbour disputes.

If this fails please contact us.

To report a smoke nuisance please use our online form. To report a firework problem, please contact us directly.

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