AN ELDERLY woman has admitted feeling suicidal amidst claims that her health is being affected by a neighbour's bonfires.

Pam Buzza, who has lived in Porkellis for 14 years, suffers breathing difficulties exacerbated by the bonfires and on one occasion last year, she suffered burns.

"I can remember it clearly - it happened at 5.30pm on October 7. I was in the garden and a lorry went past and blew hot fumes from the bonfire into my face.

"It was lucky that I had glasses on because it could have damaged my eyes. I went to lunch with my son the next day and I had to hold a cold glass to my face because it was so hot.

"I went to the doctor's for something to soothe it but I also noticed the inside of my mouth was bright red so I went to Helston Hospital to check my vocal chords because I was very hoarse. I then went to the burns unit at Treliske Hospital because my face was bright red."

Pam says her neighbour, who lives across the road, on average has bonfires "probably every two weeks" and often puts fuel on them, which creates more smoke.

"It's making me absolutely ill. I struggle to catch my breath at times. I leave a space open for my cat to get in and out but you can smell polythene - it's absolutely thick and gives me a hacking cough."

The fires have troubled her for almost a year and she has written to her MP and to the former Prime Minister Theresa May, as well as logging the October incident with police.

"I have tried to get help but no-one seems to be able to. It's being going on so long now that it's made me suicidal, I just don't know what to do."

A spokesman from Cornwall Council's environmental health department said: "If a neighbouring bonfire is affecting the use and enjoyment of land, the person affected should phone Cornwall Council on 0300 1234 212. If there is a danger to life and property then they should ring the fire service."

A Cornwall Council leaflet covering the law on bonfires includes the following information:

"It is a common misconception that there are byelaws prohibiting garden bonfires or specifying when they can be lit. Occasionally a bonfire is the best practicable way to dispose of diseased organic material that cannot be composted.

"Most bonfire problems are dealt with under nuisance legislation. Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (section 79) a statutory nuisance includes smoke, fumes or gases emitted from premises so as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance.

"In practice the burning would need to be a recurrent, persistent problem, materially interfering with a neighbour’s well-being, comfort or enjoyment of their property.

"However, under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (section 33(1)(c) it is an offence to dispose of controlled waste in a manner likely to cause pollution of the environment or harm to human health.

"In practice this means that you cannot burn waste that is likely to cause excessive smoke or noxious fumes. Waste burnt under an exemption is not exempt from the nuisance provisions of the Environmental Protection Act.

The leaflet adds: "The burning of garden waste produces smoke, especially if the waste is green or damp. This contains harmful pollutants including dioxins and particulates. Burning of plastic, rubber or painted materials creates noxious fumes.

"Air pollution can have damaging health effects and young children, the elderly and people with existing health problems, such as asthma, bronchitis and heart conditions, are especially vulnerable."