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Mists, mellow fruitfulness, and bonfires

It’s that time of the year again and the air will be full of acrid smoke from bonfires and fireworks. I make no secret of the fact that I hate both – bonfires because of the filthy and toxic fumes and particulates that fill the air, and fireworks because they are a nuisance, are often dangerous, and are terrifying to pets and wildlife.

Thankfully, we have far fewer bonfires in Ashtead than when I arrived 43 years ago when it was common for people to burn even their domestic rubbish. It often happened that one could come in from the garden smelling like a kipper (if your lungs didn’t hurt first). Luckily, people now realise that wood smoke (and that from domestic waste) is highly toxic. We know that the smoke from tobacco is carcinogenic and that just involves one species of plant. Think of all the species that are burned in garden rubbish, and please be aware that very many carcinogenic and toxic compounds are released from it. If you don’t believe me, just look up ‘toxins in woodsmoke’ online.

The people who suffer most are those with chest ailments and, of course, any kind of smoke will exacerbate their discomfort and ill health. What people don’t realise, though, is that woodsmoke is harmful to healthy people, even if they like the smell of it, or they find it difficult to believe.

Please do not burn your garden waste. Compost as much as you can, take it to the Council Waste Centre in Randall’s Road, or put it in the garden waste bins for collection. These are provided by the Council for a modest fee. If you need more information, the Council’s website will give full details.

If a neighbour’s bonfire causes a nuisance, you can report this directly to the Environmental Health Team at MVDC and they have the authority to take action as appropriate.

By Councillor Patricia Wiltshire


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