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 located within a smoke control area, where the fuel being burnt is smokeless or authorised, or if the appliance has been exempted from the Clean Air Act requirements.

Further advice

Domestic solid fuel fires

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’; and
  • 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

Regulations made under the Clean Air Act 1993 state that inherently smokeless fuels are anthracite, semi-anthracite, electricity, 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.

Please note that wood is not an authorised fuel.

  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. An exempted appliance must also be operated in accordance with its operating manual and any exemption conditions – these will be noted for the individual appliance in the online published list under the ‘View detailed information’ section.

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 around 90% fewer PM10 emissions than an open fire and 88% fewer PM10 emissions than an older conventional 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 following guidance leaflets are available from the central government Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and Burnright consumer awareness campaign:

Further more detailed information about choosing the right fuel and operating your appliance correctly to reduce pollution and save money is available from the BurnRight consumer awareness campaign website, which has been set up by professional chimney sweeps. The website also has a "Trade Information" page. The page is password protected to separate it from the consumer information. The password is 'burnright'. This Trade Information page contains a video presentation explaining the causes of poor air quality with regard to domestic combustion.

Do not burn treated waste wood (e.g. painted wood, chipboard, MDF or 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 using their outdoor areas. 

During the current coronavirus lockdown period it is also far more likely that the smoke from any bonfires will impact neighbours who are:

  • abiding by Government advice to stay at home
  • self-isolating due to existing health problems
  • key workers on downtime

It is not unreasonable to have an occasional barbecue, or to occasionally burn clean 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 section 79 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Should a nuisance due to smoke be witnessed by an authorised officer, an Abatement Notice would be served on the person responsible. Any breach of the notice could result in a prosecution in the Magistrates Court leading to an unlimited fine, together with a further fine for each day the notice continues to be breached.

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, rubber etc – these can release toxic pollutants. 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 - anyone lighting a fire and allowing smoke to drift across a highway that endangers road users faces an unlimited fine under Section 161A of The Highways (Amendment) Act 1986, this legislation is enforced by the police.

Industrial smoke control

Industrial plant, boilers and furnaces

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, boilers and furnaces.

Dark smoke is defined as appearing to be as dark as or darker than shade 2 on a Ringelmann Chart.

Authorised fuels and exempt appliances

The majority of Salford is covered by smoke control areas. It is an offence to emit dark 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 with low smoke emissions. 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.

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.

Bonfires on trade and industrial premises

Bonfire

Section 2 of the Clean Air Act 1993 prohibits (subject to certain exemptions) the emission of dark smoke from a premises or the burning of materials that are likely to give rise to dark smoke. This means that action can be taken for night time burnings of for example, tyres. Any premises that are being used for a trade (e.g. domestic premises where commercial work is being undertaken) are included. Any person who commits an offence under this Section would be liable to a fine.

Section 79 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 includes nuisance from smoke as a Statutory Nuisance. This would cover situations when smoke or the smell of smoke drifts into gardens or properties through open windows or air conditioning units. Should a nuisance due to smoke be witnessed by an authorised officer, an Abatement Notice would be served on the person responsible. Any breach of the notice could result in a prosecution and unlimited fine. This offence is not dependant on the smoke emissions being ‘dark’ within the meaning of the Clean Air Act 1993.

Anyone lighting a fire and allowing smoke to drift across a highway that endangers road users faces an unlimited fine under Section 161A of The Highways (Amendment) Act 1986, this legislation is enforced by the police.

Burning of commercial waste

It is an offence under Section 33 (1)(c) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to keep, treat or dispose of controlled waste in a manner likely to cause pollution of the environment or harm to human health, this includes burning. Any person who commits an offence under this legislation is liable to an unlimited fine.

Burning of controlled waste produced by the operation of a business is a breach of the 'Duty of Care' set out in Section 34 of The Environmental Protection Act 1990. This applies to anyone who is the producer or holder of controlled waste, including commercial and industrial waste. Persons concerned with waste must ensure that the waste is managed properly; recovered or disposed of safely; does not cause harm to human health or pollution to the environment and is only transferred to someone who is authorised to receive it. A breach of the Duty of Care is an offence with a maximum penalty of an unlimited fine either by summary conviction or on indictment. Statutory guidance ‘Waste duty of care: code of practice’ is available from the Environment Agency for further information.

Dispose of your commercial waste responsibly – we can provide your organisation with a comprehensive business waste and recycling collection service.

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

This page was last updated on 21 April 2020

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