Can I Burn Waste?
No. Except in exceptional circumstances it is an offence to burn waste.
For many years some people burned waste in their back gardens or on their property as part of their waste disposal system. Backyard burning was seen as a quick, easy and cheap way of getting rid of waste which caused no problems if it was done far away and out of sight.
Nowadays things are different. Increased environmental legislation and awareness, better disposal services and options, and changes in waste patterns have made Backyard Burning illegal, unhealthy, and unnecessary.
The main temptation now to continue backyard burning is that it is cheap, but this does not justify the practice. This short-sighted approach will lead to environmental and health related problems in the long run.
The Waste Management (Prohibition of Waste Disposal by Burning) Regulations 2009, as amended.
The Waste Management (Prohibition of Waste Disposal by Burning) Regulations 2009 came into force on the 29th July 2009 and was amended again on 01st December 2015. The main points of the legislation are as follows:
- Except as detailed from 4 to 10 below, it is an offence to burn any type of waste including garden waste such as brush, scrub, pruning, etc.
- The use of any device to burn waste, such as the “domestic waste incinerator”, stoves or open fires is an offence.
- The owner or occupier of lands or a facility must take all reasonable steps to ensure that waste is not burnt on their lands or facility illegally.
- There is an exemption to allow untreated/uncontaminated wood, trees, trimmings, leaves, bushes or similar materials generated by agricultural practices as a very last resort to be disposed of by burning and then only after filling in the required Statutory Declaration .
- There is an onus on the waste holder to investigate all other more environmentally friendly methods of treatment of green waste before disposal by burning.
- The holder of the permissible waste will have to inform the local authority by Statutory Declaration in advance of the proposed burning of such waste. Holders of permissible waste, who dispose of the waste by burning without filling in the required statutory declaration form are in breach of the regulation.
- Strict conditions apply when using burning as a means of disposal of green waste (generated by agricultural practices) such as limiting nuisance and protection of human health and not causing environmental pollution.
- This exemption only applies until the 1st January 2018, after which time all burning will be disallowed unless an application is made for a Certificate of Registration under the Waste Management (Facility Permit and Registration) Regulations 2007, as amended.
- The use of untreated or uncontaminated wood waste and other similar materials is permitted in barbeques for the purpose of cooking food.
- Burning of untreated or uncontaminated wood waste or similar materials may take place at events as may be determined locally by the local authority.
(This exemption only applies to waste generated by agricultural practices. It does not apply to leaves/grass/bushes in a domestic garden for example). The exemption applies only when all other options of disposal, such as reduction, reuse, and recycling by shredding, composting or wood chipping, are found not to be practicable or economically viable.
Disclaimer: This interpretation does not purport to be a legal opinion and while care has been taken to ensure that the content of this document is useful and accurate no responsibility for the content or the accuracy of the information provided or for any loss or damage caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with reliance on the use of such information can be accepted. As with all matters legal, you should always consult with the original legislation.
Any farmer intending to burn agricultural waste should adhere to the fire safety checklist:
- Is the fire absolutely necessary?
- Do I have the ability to stop the fire if the need arises?
- The fire should be located mare than 1 mile from any woodland or forest.
- Am I certain that my property and my neighbour's property will be safe?
- Am I sure that smoke from the fire will not cause a nuisance to others, road users and neighbours in particular?
- Have I alerted my neighbours and the relevant authorities of my intention to burn?
- Have I sufficient help and equipment on standby to control the planned fire?
- Have I adequate means of communication and the necessary contact details should an emergency arise?
- Prior to commencement of the controlled burning, I will notify the Fire Service directly by dialling 999 or 112 to advise the operator that I am carrying out the controlled burning, giving the location address, and confirming that I will ring back when the burning is complete.