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Neighbours/Noise/Bonfires - FAQ's

Are there any bylaws about having bonfires?

The statutory nuisance provisions of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 allow the Council to serve a notice on a person causing a nuisance to neighbours from bonfires.

Are there set times when I can have a bonfire?

There are no set times when you can or can’t have a bonfire.  You should avoid burning once it gets dark as you may attract the attentions of the Fire Service.  You should also avoid burning when people have washing out to dry or are likely to be disturbed by a fire.

Can I have a bonfire in my garden?

Generally yes.  However there are restrictions.  You must not cause a nuisance to your neighbours and even then you should restrict the waste you burn to dry (not green) garden waste, clean timber, cardboard or paper.  Burning other materials on an open fire may prove toxic, especially plastics, rubber, paint and oils.  You are less likely to cause a nuisance when the wind direction is blowing away from neighbouring properties.

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Can I take my own legal action against the person causing the disturbance?

As an individual it is possible to take legal action against a neighbour where they are causing you a statutory nuisance from things like noise and smoke.  The provisions of Part IV of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 allow you to do this.  It is recommended that you seek legal advice before embarking on this process.

Do you have the same powers against people in private houses as Council tenants?

The powers of the Environmental Health Section for dealing with nuisances apply equally to Council tenants as they do to occupiers of private housing.  However, the Housing Section has additional controls relating to Council tenants and these form part of the Tenancy Agreement.  In such instances the Housing Section will take the lead role and investigate.

How loud can I play music?

You must not cause a nuisance to your neighbours.  This generally depends on the location of your hi-fi relative to your nearest neighbours and how well sound insulated your home is.  You must remember that whilst most people enjoy music, they do not want music imposed on them and they are entitled to a reasonable degree of peace and quiet whether in their home or garden, day or night.  You could also try using headphones.

My neighbour is disturbing me with noise or smoke from a chimney/bonfire.  What can I do?

If you are having a problem with excessive noise or smoke from a neighbour then you have two main options.  First, for the sake of keeping on good terms, you should consider approaching your neighbour and politely let them know they are causing a problem.  The person you are complaining about is often unaware that a problem exists and it would be helpful to them if you could explain when the problem tends to happen and why it is a nuisance to you.  It is important not to get cross with your neighbour even though the noise or smoke may have made you feel that way.

My neighbour has a high hedge. What can I do?

The High Hedges Act 2013 came into force on the 1 April 2014.  The Act aims to provide a solution to the problem of high hedges, where neighbours have been unable to resolve the issue amicably. to find out more go to our guidance on High Hedges

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