What are the rules on bonfires during the coronavirus outbreak?

There are concerns over the implications of barbecues and bonfires taking place in Suffolk during th

There are concerns over the implications of barbecues and bonfires taking place in Suffolk during the coronavirus outbreak Picture: GETTY IMAGES/MONKEY BUSINESS - Credit: Getty Images/Monkey Business

Bonfires are common sights in gardens as the weather gets warmer - but what advice are our councils offering on lighting bonfires during the coronavirus crisis?

Each of Suffolk’s district councils has slightly different guidelines on whether people should be burning rubbish during the virus outbreak - with concerns over fresh air, particularly for those in self-isolation a high priority.

East Suffolk Council

East Suffolk has asked for householders to be considerate and think about when and what they might be burning and should avoid wet and windy days when smoke could hang in the air.

It says that residents should not be lighting bonfires during nice weather, when others might be getting their exercise.


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“If you are sure you can light a fire without having any negative effects on neighbours, then only burn dry material, do not burn damp material, which is more liable to smoulder and produce more and thicker smoke,” said a council spokesman.

“Never burn household rubbish or anything containing plastic, foam or paint - this not only creates an unpleasant smell but also produces a range of poisonous compounds.”

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Ipswich Borough Council

In Ipswich, the council has asked people not to have bonfires altogether.

A spokesman for Ipswich Borough Council said: “Please don’t have bonfires in your garden – either compost or temporarily store your garden waste until services and recycling centres are back up and running.

“Bonfires are fire risks and smoke can affect those self-isolating with respiratory issues.”

West Suffolk Council

West Suffolk has also told residents to avoid having bonfires at this time.

“We would advise residents to avoid having a bonfire for a number of reasons,” said a council spokesman.

“It can be antisocial, particularly with all of us being urged to stay at home where there is greater opportunity for creating nuisance for neighbours, and also for things to get out of control and need fire services to attend.

“It is illegal to burn commercial waste, and material that gives off toxic fumes such as rubber and plastics. Traditionally bonfires are used to burn dry garden waste, but this can also produce dense smoke that could affect local air quality and particularly impact upon those with breathing difficulties.”

Mid Suffolk and Babergh district councils

A Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils spokesman said: “We would always encourage our residents to be considerate of their neighbours before considering lighting a bonfire or barbecue, but especially during Covid-19, as smoke can cause additional difficulties for those suffering with respiratory issues or shielding due to the virus.

“We advise composting garden waste where possible, or safely storing it until recycling facilities and garden waste collections are able to resume normal operation. There are useful ideas to reduce, and re-use non-toxic waste on the Suffolk Wildlife Trust and Suffolk Recycling webpages.

“Where people are found to persistently cause smoke nuisances, we do have the powers to take formal action where appropriate, with further information available on our website.”

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READ MORE: What do I do with my rubbish if I’m self-isolating due to coronavirus?

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