Find out if your property is in a smoke control area
What are smoke control areas?
Many parts of the UK are smoke control areas where you cannot emit smoke from a chimney unless you're burning an authorised fuel or using 'exempt appliances', for example burners or stoves.
You must not buy an unauthorised fuel for use in a smoke control area, unless it is to be used in an exempt appliance.
You can be fined up to £1,000 if you break the rules.
Do you live in a smoke control area?
Check our interactive smoke control areas map to find out if you live in a smoke control area.
Living in a smoke control area
What fuel can I legally burn?
In a smoke control area, you can only burn fuels on the list of authorised fuels, or any of the following smokeless fuels. Unless you're using an exempt appliance.
✔ low volatile steam coal
How can I reduce solid fuel emissions?
To reduce the amount of pollution from burning solid fuel, make sure you maintain the appliance and that the fuel is clean and dry. Do not burn:
✗ wet fuels, for example, wet coke or unseasoned wood - the moisture will decrease the combustion temperature. This will increase emissions of pollutants including dioxins, furans, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, particles and oxides of nitrogen and offensive odour
✗ contaminated fuel, for example, painted or preserved wood - this will also lead to higher pollutant emissions and make the emission odorous
Maintaining your appliances
The maintenance of solid fuel appliances such as a boiler, cooker, fireplace, stove, heater, is very important so it is safe and efficient. The following general guidelines are recommended but it is important to follow any instruction from your appliance manufacturer.
- sweep chimneys from top to bottom at least once a year, preferably carried out by a qualified chimney sweep, twice a year if burning coal or wood
- make sure you have ventilation to keep the fire burning properly and efficiently
- flue-ways at the back of any boiler should be cleaned at least once a month
- throat plates at the top of any room heater should be removed and cleaned regularly
- check and empty the ashcan regularly and at least once a day when the appliance is in use
- immediate action is necessary if you smell or suspect fumes are escaping into the living accommodation
Information on carbon monoxide
What is carbon monoxide and why is it a problem?
Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless and tasteless poisonous gas. It is produced when fuels such as gas, oil, coal and wood do not burn fully. Appliances that are not maintained, damaged, or are incorrectly used or installed may produce higher levels of carbon monoxide than normal and become dangerous. Also, blocked flues and chimneys can stop the gas products from escaping, this means carbon monoxide and other gases build up in a room where it could be inhaled, with serious health effects and fatal consequences.
Carbon monoxide poisoning
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include:
- feeling sick (nausea)
- unable to think clearly
If you suffer from these symptoms and they could be caused by carbon monoxide, stop using all cooking and heating appliances, open windows and doors, leave the building and get urgent medical attention. Call a qualified engineer to check your appliances.
You can be at risk from carbon monoxide poisoning when you are asleep because you may not be aware of symptoms. Having a carbon monoxide alarm could wake you up and save your life.
Avoiding carbon monoxide poisoning
Household appliances that are installed correctly and are well maintained should produce little carbon monoxide.
- ensure that all cooking and heating appliances are installed and serviced regularly by registered engineers, for example egineers should be, Gas Safe (for gas appliances), HETAS (for coal fuelled appliances), OFTEC (for oil appliances)
- do not attempt to install or service the appliance yourself
- do not use poorly maintained appliances
- mske sure chimneys and flues are clean and not blocked and also ensure air vents are not covered
- always make sure that enough fresh air can enter the room when an appliance is being used to provide air flow
- fit a carbon monoxide alarm that meets European Standard EN 50291 and carries a British or European mark such as a kite mark