Fire hazards: Tip closures force Yorkshire homes to burn rubbish

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People are taking to burning household rubbish in their back gardens following the closure of several tips across Yorkshire.

In the last month household waste recycling centres (HWRCs) have closed in Queensbury, Keighley, and Ilkley. Now, people are taking matters into their own hands. Despite being illegal, several garden fires have been spotted across Ilkley, polluting the air in the area.

Addingham resident Mark Taylor complains: “This is now the second weekend in a row where I walk down my street and smell the terrible pollution caused by garden fires. People don’t just burn garden leaves and wood, they burn household waste and plastics, and you can smell it from miles away.”

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Legally, people can only burn dry garden waste in their gardens at home. This includes dry grass, flowers, hedge trimmings, tree clippings, and weeds. However, it’s against the law to burn plastics, painted materials, plywood, or any household waste that cause air pollution. Burning various items can release poisonous chemicals that affect children and people with asthma, bronchitis or heart conditions or even cause cancer. The fire, especially if left unattended, can also injure or kill hibernating wildlife and sleeping pets if hidden in garden waste.

Garden FireGarden Fire
Garden Fire

If smoke from a garden fire drifts into the road and becomes dangerous to traffic, the person causing it may receive an immediate fined. For people needing to dispose of different types of waste, they should try to compost, recycle, arrange a collection, or simply take them to a tip – even if it now requires a longer drive.

Councils will investigate any smoke coming from premises, especially the ones classed as a statutory nuisance. This involves fires that interfere with the enjoyment of another person’s home or that are likely to cause harm.

To report neighbours that constantly burn waste, people should simply call the local council’s environmental health team. The authorities will then be able to issue an abatement notice, and the person causing the fire can be fined up to £5,000 if they don’t comply.

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John Verity, Managing Director for waste management company says: “Since the Queensbury, Keighley, and Ilkley tips have closed on 1st April, our waste collection enquires from nearby households have doubled.”

“We know this has caused an inconvenience to the nearby residents, but we want to remind people that recycling and waste collections are very affordable and much better options than breaking the law through polluting fire hazards.”