What to do if your neighbours are burning garden waste
In our monthly column Legal Notes, reader questions are answered and explained.
My neighbour burns plants in his garden. The smells and smoke bother me. In addition, it is harmful to the environment and health, not to mention a fire risk. Every time I drop hints for him to take this green waste to the tip, he does not react. Is there anything can I do?
You should contact your mairie. It is forbidden to burn green waste (dead leaves, prunings, lawn clippings, etc) in the open air, as it is for all household waste. The rules were clarified in a 2011 ministerial circular (tinyurl.com/yd99eblj) and in article 84 of the standard sanitary regulations for French departments (tinyurl.com/y7n5h8y3).
Apart from neighbourhood disturbances and the fire risks, burning green waste increases air pollution. To get rid of grass, dead leaves and other green residues, members of the public must dispose of them at a public tip or in special bins for collection, if this is offered by the commune. This rubbish can also be composted or mulched.
In the event of failure to comply with the rules on burning, a fine of €450 may be imposed by the municipal police. You could also take the neighbour to court for odour nuisance. In certain areas, with no collection system or tip, or where residents are obliged to clear scrub, the prefect can make exceptions, so it is worth checking the local rules at the mairie.
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