Be careful what you burn this Bonfire Night

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Remember, remember the 5th of November but be careful what you burn...

In a recent prosecution one offender from Norfolk who held a charity bonfire which included waste as fuel was fined £28,000 and ordered to pay £5,799 costs.

The Environment Agency warned that his behaviour had put the environment and human health at risk when items burned included tyres.

Guy Fawkes planted gunpowder, the first chemical explosive, in a plot against the government but chemicals and other waste materials can cause serious damage.

Have fun but be safe, that is the message from the Agency to anyone planning a bonfire this Guy Fawkes’ Night.

“The message to people is simple; if you’re not sure something is safe to burn, don’t put it on your bonfire,” said Claire Spicer, Environment Agency team leader.

“Bonfire Night is a tradition which should be enjoyed by all ages, but we need to make sure the environment and people’s health are protected.”

Untreated wood, branches, small amounts of leaves, card and paper are safe to burn. Materials which should never be put on a bonfire include plastics, rubber, glass, household waste, treated, painted, and manufactured wood, mattresses and metal. Aerosols or anything containing paint or foam may also produce poisonous fumes or explode.

“Uncontrolled burning of waste is likely to pollute the air and contaminate the ground and is no way to dispose of waste to save money”, said Mrs Spicer.

“Toxic fumes can be emitted from a fire due to incomplete combustion and chemical residues can be left in the soil for years to come.”

Anyone found guilty of putting the environment at risk may be fined up to £50,000 or imprisoned for six months.

Mrs Spicer said: “We want to encourage people to make sure they dispose of their waste legally and safely. They should make sure they use only registered waste carriers and know what will happen to their rubbish.”

More information can be found on the Environment Agency website at:

To report a bonfire containing anything other than vegetation and clean wood, contact the Environment Agency hotline on 0800 80 70 60.

As well as making sure any material used on a bonfire will not cause pollution or harm human health, anyone planning a bonfire should also make sure it is stored securely and built into a pile only a short time before the fire is lit. This can help prevent animals getting into the pile or fly-tippers adding to it.