After months of grey skies and rain, the sun has finally reared its head. And as the weather gets warmer it can only mean one thing: BBQ season is officially here – and just in time for the bank holiday, too.
BBQs are the epitome of summertime socialising. And although having a BBQ is a great way to enjoy the sun with some delicious food in hand, they can also be dangerous if used in the wrong places.
You might be surprised to know that there are a number of laws to be aware of before you add chicken and sausages to a grill outside. Yes that’s right, barbecuing in certain areas can leave you with a hefty fine.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Don’t BBQ near a main road
If you live along a main road, you might want to avoid cracking the BBQ out as smoke could drift across the road, blocking drivers’ visibility.
“You could be issued with a Nuisance Abatement notice, served under the Environmental Protection Act 1990,” says Ian Hodgett, buyer at Hayes Garden World.
If you fail to comply with the notice it could result in prosecution in court and a fine of up to £5,000. “You should therefore take great consideration when choosing where to place your BBQ,” he says.
2. Don’t BBQ on a balcony
Although it’s legal to hold a BBQ on your balcony, Hodgett would strongly advise against this. “It’s important to remember that many balconies are often made of combustible materials so it poses a real threat to the safety of those barbecuing and those living around them,” he says.
If you live in a flat you have to ensure the safety of all residents. This means you may be in breach of your rental agreement if you’re found holding a BBQ on your balcony.
“You could face paying for damages, deductions from your deposit, or even eviction,” Hodgett adds.
3. In the majority of cases you should not BBQ on land owned by the National Trust
Ideally, you shouldn’t be having a BBQ on land owned by the National Trust because the countryside can become very dry during the spring and summer months, which creates the perfect conditions for fires to ignite and quickly spread.
“There are a very small number of designated BBQ areas on the land that they own, such as on concrete surfaces where the risk of fire is low. However, they advise that this should not be used during periods where there is a significant risk of fire,” Hodgett explains.
Ask your local council if they’ve issued a Public Spaces Protection Order which bans the use of a BBQ on National Trust Land. “Kirklees Council charges a fixed penalty notice of £150 if you’re found barbecuing on National Trust land. Failure to pay this could lead to a conviction from the court and a maximum fine of £1,000,” he adds.
4. Check the regulations for barbecuing at your local park
Make sure you check out the council regulations on using a BBQ in your local park, as these tend to vary.
Hodgett explains that “the majority of parks across the country allow the use of a disposable BBQ, providing that you use a designated BBQ area and take precautions to avoid the risk of fire”.
“However, there are areas of the UK, such as a number of boroughs in London, that don’t allow for the use of BBQs in local parks. For instance, you may face a fine of £100 if found BBQing in parks located in Brent,” Hodgett says.
If your park does permit the use of a BBQ, be sure to leave no trace of your disposable BBQ and any food waste, disposable plates, cups or cutlery.
5. Check council regulations regarding barbecuing on your local beach
Several local councils have implemented Public Spaces Protection Orders which ban the use of BBQs on beaches, Fylde local council being one of them.
“Failure to comply with the order in Fylde will result in a fixed penalty notice of £50 or you could be prosecuted in a magistrates’ court for a criminal offence and be fined up to £1,000,” Hodgett says.
So it’s always worth double checking before you light up in a public place.