“Think of your neighbours: don’t choke with smoke during the coronavirus lockdown” – that’s the message from Eastleigh Borough Council, and scores of local residents, who have complained about inconsiderate neighbours burning rubbish in their gardens.
The Council’s Pollution Control team and individual Ward Councillors have received an increasing number of complaints about pollution from bonfires that cause home furnishings and laundry hung outdoors to reek of smoke. Most seriously, the Council has received reports of smoke affecting the breathing of people with respiratory conditions – including those suffering symptoms of COVID-19. Bonfire smoke is already known to have a harmful effect on people with conditions including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, bronchitis and emphysema.
With household waste recycling centres currently closed due to the coronavirus outbreak, some residents are tempted to dispose of their rubbish by burning it in their back gardens. However, more people are currently at home due to the government’s social distancing measures, and with the fine weather encouraging residents to leave their windows open, relax in their gardens and dry washing outdoors the negative impact of bonfires has become a real issue across the Borough.
The Council can take action against householders who regularly light bonfires and cause a smoke nuisance under the terms of Environmental Protection Act (1990). It also aims to enforce where there are significant pollution incidents - such as the burning of tyres or commercial waste.
The Council’s Cabinet Member for Health, Councillor Tonia Craig, said: “We need to be considerate of our neighbours, especially at this time where our respiratory health is so important. Our officers will take action against residents whose bonfires cause a persistent nuisance to people living nearby.”
You can report smoke nuisance on the Council’s website – www.eastleigh.gov.uk – search for “bonfires”. If residents can provide video or photographic evidence that can be useful.