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Five alternatives to lighting a garden bonfire which are better for us and the environment

Published: Friday, 7 October, 2022

Stroud District Council is appealing to gardeners not to light bonfires as they tidy their gardens ready for winter.

“This time of year, both officers and elected members receive an increasing number of complaints about neighbourhood bonfires,” said Stroud District Council chair of Environment Committee, Chloe Turner.

“Burning garden waste is not only antisocial, causing upset among neighbours, but it accelerates climate change. Smoke from garden bonfires can have an adverse effect on air quality, particularly when non-organic matter such as painted wood or plastic is burned, and this can impact on public health.”

Cllr Robin Drury-Layfield, vice chair of Environment Committee added:

“Environment and Climate Change, and Community Resilience and Wellbeing are two of our top priorities in the Council Plan.

“We have overwhelming support from residents for our work to lead the district to carbon neutrality by the year 2030, so it’s likely that people don’t realise the detrimental effect bonfire smoke has on the environment.

“And while there’s no law prohibiting the burning of garden waste on a bonfire, we will support residents who report smoke nuisance by taking enforcement action in the shape of an Abatement Notice where necessary.”

It is a widely held belief that bonfires are legal after 6pm however this is not the case. In fact, temperature inversion effects in the evening can result in smoke not dispersing and so lingering in the neighbourhood overnight. Therefore, the evening is one of the worst times to light a bonfire.

Instead of lighting a bonfire, there are a number of alternative ways to get rid of garden waste:

 

1. Build a compost heap

A compost heap can be created by simply piling garden waste into a corner of the garden and covering with something waterproof, allowing nature to break it down over time. There’s more advice and a guide to building a compost heap on the Down to Earth Stroud website. If you’d prefer to buy a ready-made compost bin, SDC residents can buy British-made compost bins made from recycled plastic at a discount from www.getcomposting.com

 

2. Join or start at community composting scheme

There are a small but growing number of community composting schemes in the district which have the dual benefits of getting to know people in your community and receiving a share of the compost produced. For more information see https://www.gloucestershirerecycles.com/reduce/composting/community-composting/

The community composting scheme at Bisley is well established – why not contact your town or parish council for support in setting one up in you area?

 

3. Hire a shredder

Shredders make mulch from woody waste. Why not club together with your neighbours and share the cost of the hire?

 

4. Take your waste to a Household Waste & Recycling Centre.

Run by Gloucestershire County Council, Pyke Quarry near Horsley, Hempsted in Gloucester and Fosse Cross near Cirencester are all open six days a week . For opening days and times, and to book a visit see https://www.gloucestershirerecycles.com/

 

5. Plan ahead and sign up to the council’s garden waste service.

The 2022 garden waste season for existing subscribers finishes at the end of November. It will restart in February 2023 & we’ll post details of how to join the scheme on our website soon.

If after having carefully considered the alternatives you still decide to have a bonfire, there are some guidelines on our website that will help to ensure that you don't cause a nuisance: https://www.stroud.gov.uk/environment/environmental-health/pollution-and-nuisance/bonfires-and-smoke-smoke-control

 

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