New dates for fires

NB. As per letters that were sent to every member, the November fire dates have been SUSPENDED until the committee can agree a better solution. We realise this will not be ideal for everyone and will communicate with members again on this matter in due course.

Following agreement at the September committee meeting, it was agreed to change the dates we permit members to light fires on the allotments.

The allotments have been at their current site for over 30 years and were established before the neighbouring properties were built, on land that was gifted to Durham County Council by the then farmer for the purpose of providing allotments.

Previously, a set of around 4 individual days plus a week encompassing the 5th November were the only days that fires were allowed to be lit on the allotments. This year, and many of last year’s dates that were set were entirely unsuitable for burning and members were ordered to put out the fires as a result, meaning that gardeners with garden refuse to get rid of were faced with either having to take non-diseased plant material to the local Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC) or to wait a further three months for the next burn day.

This was unsustainable and unfair to those with an allotment at Newton Hall as sometimes gardeners have to deal with diseased plant matter that cannot be composted immediately in order to stop the spread of disease, and may not have access to a vehicle to take the plant matter to the HWRC. Non-industrial composting (i.e. compost heaps, wormeries, ‘Daleks’, compost trenches etc) do not reach a high enough temperature to kill spores and diseased materials. Additionally, ash from wood fires is beneficial to soil health, and having an occasional fire helps to keep the site tidy.

What are the new fire dates?

The original proposition was to scrap the designated fire days entirely and to allow members to burn their waste on any suitable day. This was rejected by the committee, and instead it was proposed that fires be allowed only between the months of March and November, and only on the 1st to 7th of the month, inclusive, to be lit no earlier than 9am and extinguished by 7pm.

The table below summarises this:

Allowable datesMonthsIncineratorOpen
1st-7th inclusiveMarch – OctoberYesNo
1st-7th inclusiveNovemberYesYes
No datesDecember-FebruaryNoNo
Fires are only permitted after 9am and must be extinguished by 7pm

This decision has been taken in order to have a LESS detrimental effect on neighbouring properties; with members being able to plan to have fires on the most suitable days for their schedules as well as the weather, and by not having all of the fires going on one day every three months, it is much less likely that neighbouring properties will be affected, and having only one week out of four means that neighbours know when fires might be lit.

It is worth mentioning that these dates only account for 9 weeks out of 52 in a year, representing less than 20% of the entire year being available for members to burn their garden waste at the allotments, which is in stark contrast to the vast majority of allotment sites which do not place any such restrictions on their members, and where fires can be lit at any time, on any day.

What rules do the members have to abide by?

All members must adhere to the rules they agreed to in their DCC Tenancy Agreement, which states:

The Tenant is permitted to burn materials on the Plot; however, fires must not be left unattended and they must be contained in an incinerator bin or similar device. The Tenant must not bring material to the Plot to burn and the fire must not cause a nuisance or danger to other plot holders or neighbouring residents.

In being considerate of other people, the Tenant must take into consideration the type of materials they wish to burn, the amount of material to be burnt, the day of the week, the time of day and the frequency at which materials are burnt across the entire site.

The Association and Landlord reserves the right to put site specific restrictions in place, which may mean that no bonfires are permitted or are only permitted on certain days of the week and / or at certain times of the day. Any such restrictions will be clearly notified to all tenants on the site and must be adhered to.

Item 11 in the Association rules (opens a new window) states that:

Open fires and the use of incinerators are only allowed on the specific dates that are published by the Committee on the Notice Boards and on the Association’s website.  Do not burn green waste or plastics: green waste should be composted where possible or removed from the site and plastics should be removed from the site.  Tenants must also ensure that they do not cause a nuisance to neighbouring households and cease burning immediately if any smoke is blowing towards the houses at the top of the hill.  Fires must be supervised at all times.

These are in addition to and run alongside the rules in every member’s Tenancy Agreement:

  • The Tenant must not bring or allow anyone else to bring waste material to the Plot or site (except manure and compost in such quantities as may be reasonably required for use in cultivation).
  • It is the Tenant’s responsibility to appropriately deal with any waste material that they generate on the Plot. To do this the Tenant may remove the waste to an appropriate disposal location, burn it (see clause on bonfires / burning rubbish), or compost it.
  • Waste materials put on a compost heap should not include food items or similar materials that will attract vermin.
  • The Tenant must store re-use items in a neat, tidy fashion and only on the 25% of the Plot that is not in productive use.
  • The final decision on whether items are rubbish or for re-use will be the Landlord’s and the Tenant will be served with a notice to quit if they fail to remove such items from the site if instructed to do so.

What can NHAA / DCC do for breaches of the rules?

As stated above, members must abide by a range of conditions in order to satisfy their tenancy agreement and to not fall foul of Association rules.

Anyone who does not follow these risks having an investigation and formal process initiated, which could result in the matter being escalated to DCC to issue a Notice To Quit (NTQ) which is a legal notice and can be enforced.

In all NTQ situations, should the member refuse to give up their tenancy then formal legal action would be sought.

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