Coronavirus and Garden Bonfires – Store not burn

Smoke and the effect on health

Test Valley Borough Council normally recommends that smoky garden bonfires should be avoided due to the annoyance that can be caused to others in the area and because exposure to smoke can be harmful. Bonfire smoke may cause particular problems for people with underlying health conditions such as asthma, bronchitis and heart conditions. 

We all now know that the coronavirus is a respiratory disease. During the coronavirus pandemic, more people than normal are at home, working, caring for their family and/or self-isolating. Your neighbour may be suffering breathing difficulties due to the virus. People with underlying health conditions have been strongly advised to self-isolate in their homes for 12 weeks. They need to go into their gardens for fresh air and they need to be able to open their windows for ventilation; they have nowhere else to go. Breathing could be worsened due to bonfire smoke inhalation and put a further burden on the NHS. Therefore, during these difficult times, we would particularly ask all residents to cooperate in protecting everyone’s health by not lighting bonfires during the Government’s lockdown period.

At present the Council’s waste collection services are being undertaken as normal and Hampshire’s household waste recycling centres are open between 10 and 4 with social distancing. As we are spending more time at home, we are perhaps finding time to declutter and do lots of gardening. You may then be tempted to dispose of some of your extra household and/or garden waste by having a bonfire.  As the lockdown throws up new challenges for us all, we are kindly asking everyone to be a good neighbour and not burn any of this extra waste.

We thank you for your cooperation in doing all you can to protect the health of your family and that of your neighbours, many of whom may be more vulnerable to the effects of bonfire smoke than ever before and who are presently restricted to their homes. The waste you are likely to burn can wait. Store for now, please do not burn.  

What are the practical alternatives to having a bonfire?

Alternative options available for the disposal of garden (and other) waste in this area are:

  • Garden Waste Collection Service - Test Valley Borough Council operates a garden waste collection service. For further details and charges, please contact us on 01264 368000;

  • Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRC) – Garden and other waste can be taken to any of the household waste recycling centres in the area;

  • Home Composting - For information on composting of all manner of garden waste, please visit our web page  

  • Use grass cuttings as mulch in your plant beds; 

  • Cut up and compact your garden cuttings and clippings as much as possible to reduce volume and store until you can get out to the HWRC;

  • Postpone some of your gardening tasks until the coronavirus crisis is over;

  • Cut down cardboard boxes and other recyclable products so more can be placed in the recycling bin and 

  • Store any excess waste from DIY projects, spring cleans etc at home until it can be disposed of safely and legally.