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Opinion : The danger of the bonfire

| March 16, 2017

Many times my good self has written about bonfires and the nuisance they cause.

It seems that bonfires can be dangerous too, did you read the news article that appeared on this site a few days ago entitled ‘Bonfire causes damage to two houses in Upper Green Street, High Wycombe‘?

Apparently firefighters were called to Upper Green Street shortly after midday on Sunday 5th March 2017 after a bonfire caused heat and smoke damage to two terraced houses.

Yours truly is not an expert on that particular part of town but from what my friends tell me some of the houses in that part of town have quite small gardens. Surely lighting up a bonfire in a small space in close proximity of houses is asking for trouble?

My good self is absolutely fed up with bonfires ruining a nice summer evening. All it takes is for a distant neighbour to light up a smoke pile and the only option is to retire into the safety of the house.

What are the rules on bonfires in High Wycombe? Well it seems you can light up whenever you like. Here are a few words from the page entitled ‘Bonfires, dust and odours‘ on the Wycombe District Council website :

It is a common misconception that there are specific byelaw’s prohibiting the lighting or timing of bonfires within the district. There is no outright bonfire ban. This includes areas that lie within the smoke control area.

The Environmental Protection Act (EPA) 1990 deals with bonfires in relation to statutory nuisances only. Persistent or particularly large bonfires may cause a nuisance.

Well, there we are. Apparently not even in smoke control areas are there any restrictions on the ‘lighting or timing of bonfires on the [Wycombe] District‘.

Sadly the anti-social ones in society can light up with the full blessing of the authorities. In my opinion this is a disgrace. Clean and breathable air is a human right, so is the ability to enjoy a warm summers evening.

There are laws prohibiting smoking in buildings but sadly none to prohibit a smoky bonfire from engulfing an entire neighbourhood. What’s worse is that the law makers aren’t taking any action to solve the problem either.

Sadly the powers that be in Wycombe are diverting their efforts towards introducing Public Space Protection Orders to prevent anti-social behaviour in Wycombe town centre and on The Rye as well as trying to tackle prostitution in Desborough Road.

The number of people who will benefit from the new PSPO’s is minimal compared to number of people affected by bonfire smoke in the residential neighbourhoods of Wycombe.

It’s about time bonfires were completely outlawed in the whole of High Wycombe from March to September and during daylight hours during the rest of the year.

If someone lights up a bonnie then neighbours should be able to call the fire brigade who will extinguish the nuisance fire and pass details onto the authorities who will give the perpetrators a fine – somewhere around £10,000 for each bonfire would be appropriate in my opinion.

Sadly I fear nothing will be done, the decent residents of Wycombe will be at the mercy of the anti-social yobs who light bonfires sending plumes of smoke into the air while the law makers twiddle their fingers as the town literally burns around them.

What do you think?

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

You can also follow me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ivor.wycombe or on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Ivor_Wycombe.

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