We report on a comparative study of the low temperature emission and polarisation properties of InGaN/GaN quantum wells (QWs) grown on nonpolar a-plane and m-plane free-standing bulk GaN substrates where the In content varied from 0.14 to 0.28 in the m-plane series and 0.08 to 0.21 for the a-plane series. The low temperature photoluminescence spectra from both sets of samples are very broad with full width at half-maximum height increasing from 81 to 330 meV as the In fraction increases. Comparative photoluminescence excitation spectroscopy indicates that the recombination mainly involves strongly localised carriers. At a temperature of 10 K the degree of linear polarisation of the a-plane samples is much smaller than of the m-plane counterparts and also varies across the spectrum. From polarisation-resolved photoluminescence excitation spectroscopy we measured the energy splitting between the lowest valence sub-band states to lie in the range of 23-54 meV for both a-and m-plane samples in which we could observe distinct exciton features in the polarised photoluminescence excitation spectroscopy. Thus, the thermal occupation of a higher valence subband cannot be responsible for the reduction of the degree of linear polarisation. Time-resolved spectroscopy indicates that in a-plane samples there is an extra emission component which at least partly responsible for the reduction in the degree of linear polarisation.