Bonfires

Click here for other advice from KBC about bonfires

Recently we have had several complaints from members and KBC about bonfires on allotments. The Air Ambulance had to be called to Scott Road field to rescue a member with burns when his fire got out of control. The committee is urging all members to avoid bonfires. The benefits of no fires are:-


  1. Clean air and unpolluted soil – bonfires release poisonous smoke and other toxins. Many of these toxins are carcinogenic – lead to cancer.

  2. Safety – fires risk damage to health and property.

  3. Nuisance – there will be fewer complaints.


How can I avoid bonfires?

Bonfires are a traditional part of allotment gardening, so how can we carry on without them? Fortunately, times have changed and there are better ways of removing waste, listed below:-


  1. Composting. Most garden waste can be composted and is too valuable to burn.

  2. Bag up and take home, put in your grey wheelie bin.

  3. Take to the civic amenity tip for recycling.

  4. Thorny prunings can be used to improve security on the allotments.


If you have any questions about how to avoid bonfires, please contact is at the address below.

Frequently asked questions

  1. Can I compost broad bean stalks?- several members have been seen burning their bean and pea stems after harvest. This is a sad waste of valuable compost. They should be put in the compost bin. There is no risk of the pea moth surviving in the compost, so do not worry.

  2. What can I do with blackberry and other thorny prunings? - these woody and thorny stems are too valuable to burn. They can be pushed into any gaps in the hedges and fences around our fields and improve security. Wear gloves! We often suffer from vandalism and anything we can do to deter unwelcome visitors is welcome. If you are not sure where your field needs more thorny prunings, ask your field steward.

  3. What about potatoes with blight? - foliage and haulms can be composted. There is no risk of blight from this. Old, damaged or diseased potatoes should be taken home and placed in the grey wheelie bin. If they are left at the allotment these potatoes will be a source of disease next season.

  4. What about stalks of brussels? - these take a long time to compost unless shredded, but can be taken home and put in the grey wheelie bin.


But I really want a bonfire!


Unless it is the 5th of November, please think again – and make sure you have fulfilled the following 7 guidelines issued by KBC. If you do not follow these – all seven! – then you may be the subject of a complaint and a visit by a KBC official.


You will notice that guideline number 1 is almost impossible in the context of an allotment field when we are surrounded by other plots and members.


  1. Warn your neighbours well in advance. They are much less likely to complain. This gives them a chance to bring washing in and/or close doors and windows.


  2. Make sure you locate your bonfire as far away from neighbouring properties (and fences) as possible.


  3. Think about the weather conditions, will the wind blow the smoke directly onto your neighbour's plot or house?


  4. Avoid burning when people are likely to want to enjoy their gardens, weekends and early evenings for example.


  5. NEVER leave your bonfire unattended . You risk a visit from the Fire Brigade and being billed for their call out fee. Make sure you have a means of extinguishing the fire if it gets out of hand.


  6. Only burn dry materials and NEVER EVER burn old tyres, foam, painted or other treated wood such as MDF, chipboard or any kind of plastic.

  7. NEVER use petrol or lighter fluid to light the fire or encourage it to burn.


    If you follow these guidelines it is unlikely your bonfire will give your neighbours cause for complaint, but please try to find a way of removing waste another way.

    More advice on bonfires from KBC