The rules when it comes to smoke control areas are relatively simple. These rules have been around for many years, but there have been recent changes to how they can be enforced. Local Authorities also have a duty to improve air quality and should be enforcing legislation against those who burn inappropriately, as with the example in Gloucestershire.
Many parts of the UK are smoke control areas where:
- there’s a limit on how much smoke you can emit from a chimney
- you can only burn authorised fuel unless you use an ‘exempt appliance’
In England, you may have to pay a penalty of up to £300 if your local council decides your chimney emits too much smoke. You can be fined up to £1,000 if you burn unauthorised fuel without an exempt appliance.
You will need to contact your local council who can advise if you live in a smoke control area.
In a smoke control area, you can only burn fuel on the list of authorised fuels, or any of the following ‘smokeless’ fuels, unless you’re using an exempt appliance:
- low volatile steam coal
Unauthorised fuels, such as wood, can only be burned in exempt appliances such as some boilers, cookers and stoves. We will cover some changes to exempt appliances later in this article.
You must only use the types of fuel that the manufacturer says can be used in the appliance, details of which can be found on relevant appliance entry on the Defra website.
Fines and enforcement processes are outlined in the Clean Air Act 1993.
Amendments to the Clean Air Act 1993 were made through the Environment Act 2021, changing the penalty from criminal to civil, allowing Local Authorities to undertake enforcement action more readily.
Under the guidance for Local Authorities, it states:
You should not need to take enforcement action if individuals are using authorised fuel or an exempt appliance correctly. This is because the appliance should not be emitting substantial amounts of smoke.
This statement is fully dependent on the user operating the appliance correctly, so it is important to only operate the appliance in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. If you live in a smoke control area, check your appliance against the exempt list and use appropriate fuel accordingly.