Guernsey islanders that are preparing to hold a bonfire to celebrate Guy Fawkes Night are reminded that they must apply for a written exemption from the Director of Environmental Health and Pollution Regulation if the event will have more than 20 attendees or does not meet the conditions required to obtain a general exemption.
Bonfires which are held in relation to a designated event should also be held within 48 hours before or after the date of the event. In the case of Guy Fawkes Night this is between 3rd – 7th November.
In November 2019, the States agreed that new legislation would be introduced which provide new powers to deal with air pollution locally. This legislation came into force on 2nd December 2019 and introduced air quality standards and objectives, a licensing system for certain operations that produce emissions and new controls over open burning (bonfires).
There is a general exemption for small-scale bonfire events subject to meeting the following conditions:
- There are no more than 20 people are attending the event;
- Only wood or dry, plant matter (green waste) is burned;
- The fire is supervised by a responsible adult;
- The fire is not more than 3m high, 3m wide and 6 cubic meters in total size (to give a comparison, 6 cubic meters is roughly the same size as a standard skip);
- It does not burn for more than 24 hours (and this includes relighting the fire);
- It does not cause dark smoke.
If your bonfire will not meet all of these conditions then you should contact the Director of Environmental Health and Pollution Regulation who may issue a written exemption, subject to certain requirements being met.
You should apply for an exemption as soon as possible in advance but allowing at least ten working days before the event. Details for how to apply for a written exemption can be found here.
If you have already declared a firework event but are also intending to have a bonfire at your event, which does not meet the conditions above for general exemption, please be aware that you will still be required by law to apply for a written exemption.
More information and guidance about bonfires, including what can be burned and how and where it may be burned, is available here. In order to avoid injuring any wild animals, such as hedgehogs, which may utilise bonfires as a place for hibernation, it is advised that you do not start creating the bonfire until a day or two before the bonfire is due to be lit.
Alternatively, a wildlife-proof fence should be erected around the bonfire to dissuade wildlife from entering the bonfire prior to it being lit – this fence should be removed just prior to lighting the bonfire.