EA takes hard line on bonfire waste cheats

Like a modern day yeomanry of the guard, Environment Agency officers will be out in force this week, trying to collar those plotting to put a torch to their waste under the cover of Bonfire Night celebrations.

The officers will be working over time to track down waste cheat who think they can get away with using the annual flaming festivities to get rid of rubbish on the cheap.

Martin Brocklehurst, head of waste strategy at the Environment Agency, said: “Anyone plotting to fly-tip waste on community bonfires or illegally burn waste beware. Our enforcement officers will be out in force.

“We want to make sure people enjoy bonfire night and at the same time make sure all bonfires are legitimate and have as little impact as possible on air quality and our environment.

“Burning wastes such as plastics and demolition waste is against the law and those who disregard the rules are not only harming our environment but risk a hefty fine and damage to their reputation.”

In the past the Environment Agency has successfully prosecuted companies and individuals found to be burning waste illegally under the guise of Guy Fawkes.

In one such case, a huge bonfire billowing thick smoke across the M4 motorway prompted investigations by the Environment Agency. Officers found a skip hire company burning items including metal, plastics and polystyrene, equivalent in size to 15 articulated lorries parked side-by-side, being burnt over a four-day period at the site.

Offences in both November 2002 and November 2003 resulted in the company and one of its employees being ordered to pay £20,000 in fines for unlawful keeping and disposal of waste. The Environment Agency used aerial footage showing the ferocity of the fire as evidence in court of the damage caused to the environment.

The Environment Agency stressed legitimate bonfires like small single bonfires at homes and organised bonfire events, such as charity and village events are not affected.

However people are reminded not to burn certain materials which may be harmful to the environment or human health.

The Environment Agency has gone as far as publishing top tips for what to burn and what to ban from the bonfire.

  • Only burn dry garden waste like untreated wood and branches. Small amounts of leaves, card and paper can be use to for kindling

  • Do NOT burn plastics, oils, household rubbish, aerosols, rubber tyres or anything containing foam or paint

  • Never use old engine oil, methylated spirit or petrol to light the fire

    Those unsure about whether something can be legally burned on a bonfire can call the Environment Agency on 0870 8506506 for a full list of permitted materials.

    Sam Bond

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