Rise in bonfire complaints spark public health concerns for Easter weekend

09 April 2020, Ross Matthewman

CIEH has released new data from local authorities showing a marked rise in complaints about bonfires and domestic noise, prompting calls for people to be considerate over the Easter weekend.

CIEH asked its members working in local authorities whether the new restrictions as a result of COVID-19, with more people working from home and children confined to households, was leading to an increase in noise and nuisance complaints.

In response, local authorities noted that complaints about bonfires had become prevalent, with many areas reporting large increases in complaints. There was also a strong increase in complaints about residential noise from neighbours including barking dogs, instrument practice, DIY, loud music and children.

The rise in bonfires is a particular public health concern as the smoke caused is stopping others from being able to use their own gardens and is a growing threat to vulnerable people and those with respiratory issues who are forced to stay in their homes.

CIEH also asked a number of other questions, including the approach that local authorities were taking to addressing these complaints and the pressures it is placing on environmental health teams.

With EHPs heavily involved in supporting efforts to tackle COVID-19, local authority resources now are stretched.

In total 29 local authorities responded to CIEH’s survey which took place between 1st – 8th April 2020.

Debbie Wood, Executive Director for Membership and External Affairs at CIEH, said:

“Our findings are painting a clear picture of growing issues regarding residential noise and nuisance which may well be exacerbated by the upcoming Easter bank holiday weekend.

The rise in people creating bonfires in their gardens is a particular concern for vulnerable people and those with respiratory issues unable to escape the smoke, especially considering the nature of COVID-19.

We are calling on people across the UK to be kind and considerate this Easter weekend and to keep their neighbours and communities in mind.

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