HC Deb 20 May 2002 vol 386 cc5-6W
Mr. Drew

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on her Department's policy with regard to bonfires, with specific reference to(a) the impact upon climate change and (b) nuisance to neighbours; what discussions she has had recently with (i) the Local Government Association and (ii) individual local authorities on the subject of bonfires; and what recent research her Department has undertaken into the impact of bonfires. [57108]

Mr. Meacher

[holding answer 16 May 2002]: Government policy regard to bonfires is:

  1. (a) The Government does not consider bonfires to be a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions.
  2. (b) Garden bonfires are a traditional way of disposing of household and garden rubbish but they can be a nuisance to neighbours and cause air pollution.

Local authorities have powers under section 79 of the Environment Protection Act 1990 to stop people creating smoke that amounts to a statutory nuisance. Where an Environmental Health Officer considers a bonfire to be causing a statutory nuisance then he or she must issue an abatement notice against the person responsible or in certain circumstances, the owner or occupier of the property. This notice can require that the activity causing the nuisance stops completely or may restrict it to between certain hours, or can require that remedial action be taken.

(b) (i) My Department has not had recent discussions with the Local Government Association or individual Local Authorities on this particular issue;

(b) (ii) National Environmental Technology Centre (NETCEN), on behalf of DEFRA, carry out, and publish the results from, regular monitoring of elevated particulate concentrations at a variety of sites around the UK, particularly on and around the traditional bonfire night celebrations. They work closely with local authorities to assist in the collection of relevant data. The latest research undertaken by this Department is given at www.aeat.co.uk/netcen/airqual.

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