Important Notice - Bonfires at Halloween

WITH Halloween approaching, Leitrim County Council is urging all businesses and households to refrain from using bonfires as a means of illegally disposing of their waste. 

The Council points out that every individual has a responsibility to dispose of his/her waste correctly and legally. Anyone who provides waste material for burning in a bonfire will be committing a criminal offence.

Householders are being warned not to give waste to local children looking to build bonfires and to ensure their bins are secure.  People storing waste for fires may be visited by the council and asked to produce receipts showing their waste is correctly disposed of.

Given the tradition of Halloween Bonfires, Leitrim County Council will not prosecute offending parties on these occasions on the basis that only natural materials such as straw, turf and untreated timber are burned in bonfires. Leitrim County Council also wishes to advise the public that the lighting of these bonfires at Halloween should be undertaken with great care for health, safety and environmental reasons.

The traditional bonfires burned wood and straw. In some instances, householders will use the excuse of a bonfire to off-load waste materials. Absolutely no domestic or commercial waste (i.e. plastic, tyres, etc) should be burned and waste material should not be provided by householders or businesses for the purpose of burning in bonfires.  It is an offence to give your waste to any individual who does not hold a current and valid waste collection permit and any householder or individual who gives their waste to children for bonfire purposes will be liable for prosecution.

Tyres, in particular, are frequently burned in bonfires. The public should be aware that they are one of the most polluting materials when burned. The application of chemicals in the manufacturing process, makes tyres a very dangerous product once heat is applied. They contain many chemicals, which during burning, produces toxic fumes. The heat of the bonfire does not destroy many of these emissions. They are emitted into the air we breathe. They contaminate the area around the fire and lands over a long range. Once released these toxins will persist for a long time in our environment. Some of the effects may be long-term and cumulative.

So do not use this festive time to dispose of waste illegally. Remember, Backyard Burning is illegal and can result in prosecution.

If you do propose to celebrate Bonfire Night, Leitrim County Council would recommend you take note of the following guidelines.

  • If you are having your own bonfire, build it as close to Halloween as possible, ideally on the night itself. This will reduce the risk of pets and wildlife getting trapped in the fire. It is also less likely to be spotted ahead of the night and used by fly-tippers.
  • Do not burn plastics, aerosols, tyres or canisters. They can produce toxic fumes and some containers may explode causing serious injury. Keep an eye on the bonfire site to avoid unsuitable material being put on it.
  • Site bonfires in a clear open space. It should be at a safe distance (preferably no less than 15 metres) from buildings, trees, wooden fences, overhead cables or car parking areas.  Ensure that the area has been cleared of undergrowth and any surrounding grass has been cut short.   Make sure it is put out fully after the event so embers don't set any nearby vegetation alight.
  • You should also ensure that the area is cleaned up after the bonfire

Anyone unsure about what is safe to burn or who suspects hazardous materials are being burnt on bonfires in their vicinity can call the Environment Hotline at 1890 205 205

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