A plague of illegal bonfires is blighting parts of the borough – with a quarter of all nuisance complaints received since the beginning of September linked to 18 locations – but the council is taking immediate action to put the problem out.
Acrid smoke from sites burning what is believed to be commercial waste is polluting homes and gardens in various parts of the borough and WBC enforcement officers are out hunting the culprits to put a stop to the problem.
Cllr Parry Batth, executive member for environment said: “I am declaring war on the culprits who are burning commercial waste late in the evenings and weekend. The foul smells created are blighting the lives of many residents – and could cause health problems in particular those with respiratory conditions. We have the powers to catch and punish those responsible – and we won’t hesitate to do so.”
The council’s Public Protection (PPP) Team has followed up complaints and on witnessing nuisance issued Abatement Notices at locations in the south of the borough where they found evidence of illegal burning. To date there have not been further incidents at these locations, but, if there are infringements there are a range of options open to the Council including prosecution and all options are on the table. They are also using other powers such to deal with dark smoke when appropriate.
The PPP team has also carried out day and night time inspections at these and other potential trouble spots to try to catch the perpetrators in action.
Cllr Batth added: “Wokingham Borough has zero tolerance to illegal burning of commercial waste. Our teams are out looking to catch those responsible. But we do need the public’s help because it is obviously essential to get evidence, and the best evidence is to catch them red-handed. If you are aware of illegal burning of commercial waste, please contact us on the appropriate channel – just posting something on social media will never help us take action, but reporting the incidents can do.”
Any residents witnessing illegal fires should contact the PPP via the website https://publicprotectionpartnership.org.uk/make-a-service-request/ or if it’s happening in real time a call to the EH number on (01635) 503 242. Reports should include information on times, locations and if possible photographs of the fire and smoke.