Smoke

This page provides information about the rules for domestic premises and industrial smoke control.

Domestic smoke control

Brushing the soot off green houses in Buile Hill Park

What can we deal with?

  • Smoke from chimneys when the appliance or fuel being burnt is not exempt from the Clean Air Act requirements
  • Persistent bonfires

What legislation does the council use?

What can’t we deal with?

  • Occasional garden bonfires where clean wood and garden waste are being burnt.
  • Smoke from a domestic chimney, where the fuel being burnt is smokeless or authorised, or if the appliance has been exempted from the Clean Air Act’s requirements.

Further advice

So you fancy a solid fuel fire?

If you are thinking of using solid fuel to heat your home, there are some important things you need to consider:

  1. Salford - Smoke control areas

Wood and coal burning appliances contribute to particulate matter and other pollutant emissions. Evidence suggests that emissions of very fine particles (PM10 and smaller) from soot and smoke can have detrimental effects on health, by getting into the lungs and blood and being transported around the body. 

The majority of Salford is covered by smoke control areas. These were introduced from the 1950s to phase out the burning of solid fuel on domestic appliances and improve air quality. 

Under the Clean Air Act 1993, this means that in a smoke control area, only smokeless or ‘authorised fuels’ can be burnt unless they are being used in an ‘exempt appliance’. It is an offence to emit smoke from a domestic chimney using an open grate or non-exempt appliance unless it is as a result of burning a smokeless or ‘authorised fuel’.

  1. Smokeless and ‘authorised’ fuels that can be used in smoke control areas

Inherently smokeless fuels are anthracite, semi-anthracite, gas and low volatile steam coal. 

Fuels are authorised (suitable to be used in a smoke control area) after they have undergone approved testing and appear on an authorised fuels published list to demonstrate that they can be burnt with low smoke emissions. If the appliance they are intended to be used with is not exempted, only smokeless or authorised fuel is permitted to be used in a smoke control area.

  1. Exempt appliances that are permitted to burn unauthorised fuels in smoke control areas

Appliances are exempt (suitable to be used with unauthorised fuels in a smoke control area) after they have undergone approved testing and appear on an exempt appliances published list to demonstrate that they can operate with low smoke emissions. Most exempt wood burners are only permitted to burn clean, untreated and dry wood. Before investing in a wood burning stove, check if it is an exempt appliance and the fuel that it is permitted to be used with – only this fuel or a smokeless/ authorised fuel is permitted to be used in a smoke control area.

Building Control consent is also necessary for installing a solid fuel burner, unless the work is carried out by a member of a Competent Persons Scheme e.g. a HETAS Registered Installer. Further information is available from the HETAS website

Did you know? 

A stove with the 'Ecodesign Ready' label produces 90% fewer emissions than an open fire and 84% fewer emissions than an older stove.

Properly seasoned and dried wood can reduce levels of pollution from a home stove by up to 50%. Burning wet wood increases emissions and has a greater impact on air quality. Smoke produced from wet wood increases the maintenance and repair requirements of an appliance, making it more expensive to run and harder to keep in a safe, effective condition. Look out for retail bags of wood fuel clearly labelled as 'Ready to Burn' by a Woodsure Certified Supplier.

The central government Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) have worked with chimney sweep organisations to provide advice to consumers in their own homes. They have developed a detailed informative guide which provides clear advice on the procedures to follow when lighting and operating a wood burning appliance to minimise smoke emissions.

Simple practical guidance on using wood burning stoves and open fires to reduce their environmental impact and maximise their efficiency is also available from DEFRA.

DO NOT burn treated waste wood (e.g. old furniture) or household rubbish. Treated waste wood can emit harmful fumes and household rubbish may include plastics that can release toxic pollutants, such as arsenic, into your home when burnt.

For further guidance on smoke control areas, smokeless fuels and exempt appliances please go to the DEFRA website.

If you either burn the incorrect fuel on your exempt appliance or burn a non-authorised fuel in a smoke control area that emits smoke from your chimney, you will be guilty of an offence under the Clean Air Act 1993 and upon conviction, liable to a fine not exceeding level three - currently £1,000.

Domestic bonfires

Domestic bonfires

Domestic bonfires, chimineas and smoky barbecues can be very irritating to the occupiers of surrounding premises. The smoke and smell may prevent your neighbours hanging out washing, opening windows and the using their outdoor areas. 

It is not unreasonable to have an occasional barbecue, or to occasionally burn wood or garden waste on a bonfire. However, if you have fires regularly, they may constitute a statutory nuisance and you could be subject to formal action under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

Garden waste can be disposed of by composting it or taking it to your local recycling centre. We can also collect it in your pink lidded bin (if you have one).

If you must have a bonfire, never burn any toxic items such as painted wood, plastics, etc. These items can be disposed of at your local recycling centre or we can collect bulky items.

Avoid burning at weekends, bank holidays and when smoke may be blown into a neighbours garden. Only burn dry material and don't leave a fire unattended or smouldering. Do not allow the smoke to drift across a road or endanger traffic. Such a matter would be dealt with by the police.

Industrial

Plant and equipment

Plant and equipment that is operational in Salford needs to meet the provisions of the Clean Air Act 1993. This Act prohibits (subject to some exemptions) the emission of dark smoke from chimneys serving industrial plant and boilers.

Notification and chimney height approval

Before installing a furnace in an industrial or commercial building, you must inform the local authority. Such furnaces also require approval of the chimney height and installation of grit and dust arrestment equipment from the local authority if the furnace is burning pulverised fuel, burning at a rate of 45.4 kilograms per hour or at a rate equivalent to 366.4 kilowatts per hour.

The furnace must be capable of operating continuously, without emitting dark smoke, when burning fuel for which it was designed.

If you are planning to install an industrial furnace, please complete the 'report it' form.

Exempt appliances

In addition, the majority of Salford is covered by smoke control areas. It is an offence to emit smoke from a chimney, unless the smoke is caused by the use of an 'authorised fuel', which appears on a published list to demonstrate that it can be burnt with low smoke emissions.

Appliances that can be used within a smoke control area have undergone approved testing and appear on an exempt appliances published list to prove that they can operate without causing excessive smoke. It is important to note, that although you may be using an exempt appliance, to ensure compliance you must also burn the fuel for which it has been exempted and in the manner described.

It is also important that other legislation, such as the Environmental Permitting Regulations is taken into account if you intend to burn waste. Further guidance can be obtained from the DEFRA website.

Bonfires

Bonfire

In addition under the Clean Air Act 1993 it is an offence (subject to certain exemptions) to emit dark smoke from industrial or trade premises. This would include any premises which are being used for a trade and includes domestic premises where commercial work is being undertaken.

Unless proved otherwise, an emission of dark smoke is deemed to have taken place if there is evidence that material has been burnt that would be likely to emit dark smoke. This means that action can be taken for night time burnings of for example, tyres. An offence may result in a fine.

Find out how to report this online

For advice about our procedures and the legislation we use please see our frequently asked questions page

This page was last updated on 13 February 2018

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