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My Norwich

Allotment waste and polluting activities policy

Bonfires on allotments and protecting soil from contamination

The most commonly enforced polluting activity on allotments is the burning of waste materials. Types of polluting waste that are burnt on allotments include many synthetic products such as painted and treated wood, chipboard, laminates, plastics, and carpet, as well as smaller items such as unwanted fleece, polystyrene, and plant pots. Burning household waste releases harmful pollutants and potentially poisonous compounds into the air and soil. Increased levels of heavy metals and other harmful chemicals being transferred into the soil in this way can pose a risk to public health. The risk to human health can be through direct contact or passed on through the food chain in food we eat grown on polluted soil. Ground and surface water can also be affected by contaminated soil, and there are potentially harmful effects to local wildlife as well as people. Damaging human practices can have long lasting effects on the health of the soil, which are practically irreversible (European Commission, 2012).

The burning of household waste without a licence is a criminal offence and where we have evidence of polluting bonfires taking place, the council will issue a bonfire notice. In serious cases, immediate tenancy termination and possible prosecution may be considered.

The allotment rules only allow for the burning organic waste which is not suitable for composting, originating from your allotment. This would predominantly be dry twiggy material such as branches of trees or shrubs which have been cut back on your plot. Any other materials must not be burnt, including any treated wood such as parts of a shed or fencing you may wish to remove from your plot.

Bonfires may only take place between 1 October and 31 March and ideally burning should be contained within a metal brazier. For more information on bonfire regulations please refer to the allotment rules.