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Opinion : Bonfires impact on air quality so why aren’t they banned in High Wycombe?

| May 17, 2018

Did you see the article that appeared in the news section of this site today headlined ‘Conference on air quality takes place in Buckinghamshire‘?

It seems the various municipal authorities in Buckinghamshire came together for a day to discuss the issue of air quality. This is excellent news, however from a quick read the report of events at the conference it seems curbing pollution from motor vehicle was the main topic of discussion.

Is there perhaps another form of pollution that needed to be discussed too?

I am of course talking about smoke and pollution from the infernal bonfires that blight the residential areas of Wycombe during the warm summer evenings.

As far as yours truly is concerned there is nothing worse that a nuisance neighbour lighting up a gigantic smoke pile and letting the thick, acrid smoke fill the neighbourhood.

Sadly there is no ban on bonfires in the Wycombe District, indeed the position is clearly spelt out at the following ‘Bonfires, dust and odours‘ web page. Ironically Wycombe does have a smoke control area but sadly it only makes it an offence to burn fuels such as coal and wood on an open fire in the central area of town.

What a ridiculous state of affairs. Bonfire smoke is permitted but not smoke from a coal or wood fire!

Now, let’s consider the position of Broadland District Council in Norfolk. Broadland does not have any smoke control zones but bonfires can be reported if they cause problems to neighbours. Indeed neighbours can openly complain about nuisance bonfires and Environmental Health Officers will investigate and in the majority of cases contact the person who is having the bonfire. Further information on their policies can be found here.

Once again we are worse off in Wycombe. Honest, decent, hard-working, Council Tax paying residents are left exposed to bonfire smoke in Wycombe and my good self thinks that’s a disgrace.

There are ways to complain about bonfires in Wycombe but it involves residents completing a ‘Statement of Witness Smoke Record Form‘ which all seems a bit formal, legal and makes one feel one step away from court proceedings.

Of course it’s not just garden waste burnt on bonfires in Wycombe. A bonfire is also a useful way to dispose of the insides of a car being prepared for banger racing. Yours truly has even heard accounts of fridges, freezers and other household waste burnt on bonfires.

Did you know that it was reported in the media that ‘a DEFRA report found that back garden bonfires of domestic waste account for nearly a fifth of the cancer causing dioxins that are pumped into the atmosphere and seep into the ground.

Maybe another air quality conference should be held in Buckinghamshire to discuss the health issues bonfires pose to the residents of Buckinghamshire?

Personally yours truly would like to see the lighting of bonfires made an offence in Wycombe with Environmental Health Officers investigating and taking action.

Ideally there should be a 24 hour service operated by all councils in the UK where residents can report bonfires and Environmental Health Officers should go out immediately and catch the bonfire lighters in the act then call the fire brigade to extinguish the fire and send the bill to the person who had the fire.

In reality yours truly fears nothing will change and the residents of Wycombe will continue to be exposed to deadly cancer causing toxins from nuisance bonfires just like they have been for years.

What do you think?

My blogs are published every Tuesday and Friday evening around 8.00pm here on the WycombeToday.com website.

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