Outdoor Fires - not bonfires

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Brainsey
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Outdoor Fires - not bonfires

Post by Brainsey » Fri Aug 08, 2014 9:06 pm

My question is about my neighbour's outdoor fire, one of those chiminea things.
They regularly eat or drink or just sit outdoors immediately adjacent to the house and spark up the wood fuelled fire, even on a warm evening.
Unfortunately my half of our adjoining semis is downwind of the prevailing breeze and my garden and similar sitting area is overwhelmed by wood smoke. Since opening various of the house windows is usual in the clement weather the interior of my house (particularly the rear bedroom) is also affected to some extent by the smoke - and it's mostly the smell rather than smoke itself that I notice.

As soon as I become aware of the problem I have to rush to shut the windows and switch on bathroom and kitchen extractor fans to try to rid the house of the smell. As far as outside is concerned I cannot stand to sit outside the house as after only a few minutes my clothes stink of wood smoke which becomes all the more noticeable when I retreat indoors.

For information we have similar outdoor sitting areas but cannot see each other as the kitchens either side of the party wall project into the gardens and the sitting areas are to the side of the kitchens.
The smoke/smell seems to curl around the house and affect the areas close to my house. The far end of my long garden is largely unaffected.

I'd like my neighbour to stop stinking up my house and garden. I'd prefer not to smell like a kipper after a few minutes outside on a fine summer's evening.
I have yet to speak to my neighbour about this but just want to be sure of my ground before I do and my understanding (not from anything specific) is that there is very little, if anything, I can do to 'make' my neighbour stop or abate what I regard as a nuisance.

Am I correct?
Have other had a similar issue and if so what did you do about it?

MacadamB53
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Re: Outdoor Fires - not bonfires

Post by MacadamB53 » Fri Aug 08, 2014 10:43 pm

Hi Brainsey,

my understanding (not from anything specific) is that there is very little, if anything, I can do to 'make' my neighbour stop or abate what I regard as a nuisance.

that's my understanding as well.

these things are usually just a fad though - how long has it been going on?

Kind regards, Mac

Brainsey
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Re: Outdoor Fires - not bonfires

Post by Brainsey » Sat Aug 09, 2014 7:13 am

MacadamB53 wrote:that's my understanding as well.
Thanks, confirmation of how few legs I have to stand on will guide how I tackle my neighbour.

The fires started over a year ago but recently the pace has picked up significantly - around 2/3 per week now.

arsie
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Re: Outdoor Fires - not bonfires

Post by arsie » Sat Aug 09, 2014 9:03 am

Perhaps if an appeal to decency fails to have an effect - which is likely, most people are blind to the consequences of their actions - complain to the local council. They will then want a log of events etc. The fire should be vented via a tall enough chimney. There are regulations. Which our local chippie frequently abuses. Not sure if these apply to garden braziers.

Failing all else a badly adjusted garden spray could be put to use.

Brainsey
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Re: Outdoor Fires - not bonfires

Post by Brainsey » Sat Aug 09, 2014 11:46 am

I'll have to see what their reaction is to my comments.

There are no LA rules against having a bonfire (that's the closest analogy on the LA site) and any action by the LA would depend on the fires being assessed as causing a statutory nuisance.

The section ref bonfires includes these comments:
Avoid lighting a fire in unsuitable weather conditions - smoke hangs in the air on damp, still days and in the evening, if it is windy, smoke may be blown into neighbours gardens and across roads.
Avoid burning at weekends and on bank holidays when people want to enjoy their gardens.

which may be useful in the discussion.

Set to spray my hose would not reach their fire: but on jet it would. Wonder if I can hire a fireman's uniform? :idea: :!:

Rosenberg
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Re: Outdoor Fires - not bonfires

Post by Rosenberg » Sat Aug 09, 2014 2:12 pm

Brainsey wrote:The fires started over a year ago but recently the pace has picked up significantly - around 2/3 per week now.
That sounds like the sort of statutory nuisance that your Local Authority should act upon. You could try complaining to their Environmental Health department if your neighbours aren't amenable to discussion. If you do complain prepared for a long and drawn out process. My LA was absolutely useless at tackling a noise nuisance from neighbour's trance music because they needed to come and witness the noise each time, yet they usually didn't arrive for 2-3 hours by which time the noise had stopped.

Proving the extent of the nuisance from the Chimnea should be easier though. You will need to keep a written log of the incidents: time, duration, how it inconvenienced you. Video evidence would undoubtedly help. If your neighbours also experience the nuisance it would help if they also lodged complaints (with logs that corroborated yours).

Remember though that, if you do lodge a formal complaint against your neighbours, you'll probably need to be prepared for outright war.

MacadamB53
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Re: Outdoor Fires - not bonfires

Post by MacadamB53 » Sat Aug 09, 2014 3:37 pm

Hi Brainsey,
Rosenberg wrote:how it inconvenienced you
that's going to be the tricky bit IMHO...

Kind regards, Mac

Brainsey
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Re: Outdoor Fires - not bonfires

Post by Brainsey » Sat Aug 09, 2014 4:43 pm

MacadamB53 wrote:Hi Brainsey,
Rosenberg wrote:how it inconvenienced you
that's going to be the tricky bit IMHO...

Kind regards, Mac
As far as I know the LA don't ask that specific question; rather they ask how the nuisance affects you (such as keeps you awake for a noise nuisance), and that's somewhat more straightforward to answer.

Rosenberg
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Re: Outdoor Fires - not bonfires

Post by Rosenberg » Sat Aug 09, 2014 5:30 pm

Perhaps "inconvenience" was too specific a word for me to use here, but the gist is pretty much the same. Obviously you would be claiming that the nuisance "affects" you detrimentally.

If you can't reasonably enjoy your own garden and home because of the repeated episodes of smoke, I would say that, at the very least, it is an inconvenience. In some cases, it might also be a health hazard - does anyone in your household suffer from respiratory difficulties (asthma, COPD, emphysema, brochitis etc.), skin conditions or autoimmune conditions that affect the mucous membranes? Smoke can be an irritant in all of these conditions.

Brainsey
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Re: Outdoor Fires - not bonfires

Post by Brainsey » Sat Aug 09, 2014 5:46 pm

Thanks Rosenberg; yes, the wording is a little bit semantics and, as you say, the gist is the same.

No household members suffer from any of the conditions you mention but none of us like the smell of smoke - especially indoors!
I'm an ex smoker (ex by close on 40 years) and before smoking was banned in pubs I've been known to come home from a night out, get showered and put my discarded clothes in the garage so that they didn't stink up the house.

Neighbours are away for the weekend so no fires, and it's raining, but my first action will be a friendly chat and see how they react.
If the chat fails to effect a change I'll simply tell them that I'll record events and make a formal complaint to the LA EHO.

appledore
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Re: Outdoor Fires - not bonfires

Post by appledore » Sat Aug 09, 2014 6:34 pm

Hi Brainsey. We seem to spend half our lives running round the house closing windows. I can't stand the smell of wood smoke, and two close neighbours have woodburners. Thankfully they only smell for a short time when they've just been lit.
I can't stand the smell of barbecues either. If it's not a woodburner or barbecue then it's the farmer spraying the field behind us with insecticide. I have an autoimmune condition which affects my eyes, and they really sting.

I don't think there's anything we can do about the smells that annoy us, but if I were you I'd contact Environmental Health and see if they can help. It's worth a try anyway. Or you could try the fireman's outfit and the hosepipe.
Keep calm and carry on.

MacadamB53
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Re: Outdoor Fires - not bonfires

Post by MacadamB53 » Sat Aug 09, 2014 9:09 pm

Hi Brainsey,

none of us like the smell of smoke

so it's not that there's actual smoke causing a nuisance?

some folk don't like the smell of scented flowers or freshly cut grass or dogs or curry - should they start logging complaints?

by all means have a word with them to see if you can convince them to reduce the frequency - and ensure their wood is dry - but by golly don't start wasting public money on such a fruitless exercise!

gov guidelines: "A bonfire must happen frequently to be considered a nuisance."

Kind regards, Mac

Brainsey
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Re: Outdoor Fires - not bonfires

Post by Brainsey » Sat Aug 09, 2014 10:35 pm

MacadamB53 wrote:so it's not that there's actual smoke causing a nuisance?
Yes, there is actual smoke; but it's the smell of the smoke that is causing the nuisance not the sight of it.

So, by golly, don't berate me for something I haven't yet done. My intention is to sort things amicably without involving the LA.


appledore - I sympathise with your issues; barbecues are the bane of modern urban areas and they really are things about which we can do little or nothing.

MacadamB53
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Re: Outdoor Fires - not bonfires

Post by MacadamB53 » Sat Aug 09, 2014 10:39 pm

Brainsey wrote:
MacadamB53 wrote:so it's not that there's actual smoke causing a nuisance?
Yes, there is actual smoke; but it's the smell of the smoke that is causing the nuisance not the sight of it.

So, by golly, don't berate me for something I haven't yet done. My intention is to sort things amicably without involving the LA.
Hi Brainsey,

I wasn't berating you.

Kind regards, Mac

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