Smoke control areas
Certain parts of Newark and Sherwood have been classified by the Council as smoke control areas.
Under the Clean Air Act, local authorities may declare the whole or part of their district as a smoke control area.
It’s an offence to emit smoke from a chimney of a building, from a furnace or from any fixed boiler if located in a designated smoke control area.
What rules apply in a smoke control area?
Only approved solid fuels or exempted appliances (eg. wood burning stoves) can be used in buildings in a smoke control area.
It’s an offence to acquire an unauthorised fuel for use within a smoke control area, unless it is used in an exempt appliance. The current maximum level of fine is £1,000 for each offence.
Authorised fuels include inherently smokeless fuels such as gas, electricity and anthracite together with specified brands of manufactured solid smokeless fuels. These fuels have passed tests to confirm that they are capable of burning in an open fireplace without producing smoke.
Exempt appliances are appliances (ovens, wood burners and stoves) which have passed tests to confirm that they are capable of burning an unauthorised or inherently smoky solid fuel without emitting smoke. You’ll find a full list of exempted appliances on Defra’s website.
Garden bonfires are not included in the smoke control exemption.
Download Defra’s practical guide to smoke control areas for further information.
Where are the smoke control areas in our district?
Click to see maps of the smoke control areas in Newark and Sherwood:
If you’d like to find out if your property is within a smoke control area, or require further advice, please contact us.
Wood burning stoves
Many people across the district use a wood burning stove to keep their homes warm. Recent research has identified that they are a large contributor to air pollution.
If you live in a smoke control area your burner should be an exempt appliance. This means the stove emissions have been tested and approved by DEFRA and it is exempt from most of the smoke control area restrictions. If you do not have an exempt appliance and live in a smoke control area, you can only burn authorised fuel such as anthracite or manufactured solid smokeless fuels in your wood burner.
Pollution from wood burning stoves
PM2.5 is particulate matter or small particles that are 2.5 µm (microns) and smaller, for comparison the average human hair is 70 µm in diameter. They are of particular concern as they can be inhaled deep into the lungs and from there can migrate around the body.
Some reports state that wood burning accounts for up to 31% of PM2.5 in some urban areas (39% if you include coal).
While domestic burning and other emissions have reduced significantly since the 1950s, the evidence on the adverse health impacts from air pollution has also grown during that time, showing that even at today’s lower levels, significant harm can be caused. Since 2005, there has been an increase in the emissions from the domestic sector. DEFRA believe this is largely due to an increase in the popularity of open fires and wood burning stoves.
Impact on health
Inhalation of particulate pollution can have adverse health impacts, and there is understood to be no safe threshold below which no adverse effects would be anticipated.
The biggest impact of particulate air pollution on public health is understood to be from long-term exposure to PM2.5, which leads to high plaque deposits in arteries. This contributes to hardening of the arteries, which can lead to heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems. Exposure to high concentrations of particulate matter (e.g. during short-term pollution episodes) can also exacerbate lung and heart conditions, significantly affecting quality of life, and increasing deaths and hospital admissions.
How can we help reduce exposure to fine particulate matter?
Operating your domestic wood burner correctly and ensuring that it is regularly maintained, including having the chimney swept at least annually, can make a huge difference to the efficiency of the burner. It will also save you money, improve performance and greatly reduce emissions.
DEFRA have produced a practical guide to open fires and wood burning stoves, containing guidance on how to get the best out of your burner and reduce emissions from it.
Look for the Woodsure Ready to Burn logo when you buy wood. This is a DEFRA administered scheme to give you confidence that the wood is dry enough to burn with minimum emissions.
The Burnright website, which has been set up by chimney sweeps, also provides helpful advice and includes YouTube videos with instructions on the best way to operate your burner.
DEFRAs guide to buying, storing and seasoning wood (PDF File, 336kb) is also a useful document.