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Smoke from Chimneys and Smoke Control


In December 1952, the London smog resulted in over 4000 extra deaths during a five-day period, caused mainly by the burning of coal on domestic grates.

In response to this, the Clean Air Acts of 1956 and 1968 were passed. These Acts enabled Local Authorities to declare Smoke Control Areas, or “Smokeless Zones”, to reduce smoke and sulphur dioxide pollution associated with domestic coal burning. The Clean Air Acts of 1956 and 1968 have now been consolidated into the Clean Air Act 1993.

Most of Gateshead is covered by Smoke Control Orders. This means that it is an offence to emit smoke from a chimney, from a furnace or from any fixed boiler in Gateshead. The penalty for this offence is a fine of up to £1000.

In accordance with the Clean Air Act 1993 it is also an offence to burn coal or wood in Gateshead, unless burned on one of a list of ‘exempted appliances’ designated to operate with reduced smoke emissions by the Secretary of State. There are many authorised fuels available to use on any other appliance, just ask your supplier. If you would like to know whether your fireplace is an exempted appliance or whether you are using an authorised fuel look at the useful documents on the right hand side.

Is it also an offence to acquire or to sell for use in a Smoke Control Area, any fuel, other than an authorised fuel, unless the premises or appliance is exempt.

If you are planning on having on having an open fire or using a burning appliance:

  • Only use an authorised burner/appliance that is exempt from the legislation, as it has been designed to burn fuel with minimal amounts of smoke. Such burners have been designed to burn specific fuels, for example, wood, and should not be used for others such as coal or household waste. The manufacturer's instructions will advise which fuel should be used and should always be followed.
  • Only use an authorised fuel that has been designed to burn with the minimal amount of smoke.

Industrial Chimneys

Under the clean air act 1993 dark smoke is prohibited from a chimney of any industrial building. If you see smoke please report it to us.

Contact Us

Private Sector Housing
Development and Enterprise
Civic Centre

Phone: 0191 433 3000