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, following 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.
FIreworks: the law on GOV.UK sets out the rules for buying and using fireworks. They include:
- a ban on air bombs and nuisance rockets
- restricting the sale of fireworks from unlicensed traders
- making illegal the possession of fireworks by under-18s
- prohibiting the use of fireworks after 11pm (with certain exceptions)
Enforcement agencies including the Police and Trading Standards have the responsibility for enforcing the regulations, which can lead to fines.
Only adults should deal with setting up firework displays, the lighting of fireworks and the safe disposal of fireworks once they have been used (and remember, alcohol and fireworks don't mix!). Children and young people should be supervised, and watch and enjoy fireworks at a safe distance. Follow these top 10 tips for a safer fireworks party:
- Plan your firework display to make it safe and enjoyable, and check the time you can legally set off fireworks.
- Only buy fireworks which carry the CE mark, keep them in a closed box and use them one at a time.
- Read and follow the instructions on each firework using a torch if necessary.
- Light the firework at arm's length with a taper and stand well back.
- Keep naked flames, including cigarettes, away from fireworks.
- Never return to a firework once it has been lit.
- Don't put fireworks in pockets and never throw them.
- Direct any rocket fireworks well away from spectators.
- Never use paraffin or petrol on a bonfire.
- Make sure that the fire is out and surroundings are made safe before leaving.
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)
- not every firework needs to be loud to be entertaining, consider your neighbours and pets and use some quieter ones
- 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 and 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
- 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
Report a problem
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.