Smoke control areas and smoke from chimneys
Smoke from chimneys and from solid fuel appliances including open fires and wood burning stoves.
The use of open fires and wood-burning stoves has risen in popularity over recent years. This increase has subsequently had an impact on the levels of air pollution in the UK. Domestic wood and coal burning contribute to harmful particulate emissions, which can have a direct impact on people's health. Clean air is one of the most basic requirements of a healthy environment for us all to live and work.
Smoke control area
Tackling air pollution is a priority for the Government. The Clean Air Act 1956 has allowed Local Authorities to designate smoke control areas fully or partially within their Borough.The vast majority of the Borough of Gateshead has been designated a smoke control area. There are however a number of exempt areas.
In accordance with the Clean Air Act 1993 it is an offence to burn unauthorised fuel (for example coal or wood) in the Borough of Gateshead, unless burned on an exempt appliance designated by the Secretary of State. Such appliances are designed to operate without producing any smoke or a substantial quantity of smoke. The exempt appliance list for England can be found on the DEFRA website.
Authorised fuels for use on all other appliances
If you have an open fire or non-exempt appliance, there are many authorised fuels available to use. Further information can be found on the DEFRA website.
Installation of solid fuel appliances
All solid fuel appliances, including wood burning stoves, must be either installed by a HETAS engineer or be approved by the Council's Building Control service. Legal action can be taken by the Council should you fail to do either of the above. All appliances must be fitted, maintained and used in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.
- If you have a wood burning stove which is on the exempt appliance list for England; and has been fitted by a HETAS engineer or passed by a Building Control Inspector, you will be permitted to burn unauthorised fuel in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions of your appliance.
- If you have an open fire, non-exempt appliance or an exempt appliance that has not been fitted by a HETAS engineer or passed by a Building Control Inspector, you must only burn authorised fuel such as smokeless fuel.
- It is an offence under S.20 (1) of the Clean Air Act 1993 to emit smoke* from a chimney of any building (residential or industrial) within a smoke control area. The penalty upon summary conviction of this offence is a fine of up to £1,000.
- It is an offence under S.1 (1) of the Clean Air Act 1993 to emit dark smoke** from a chimney of any building (residential or industrial). The penalty upon summary conviction of this offence is an unlimited fine.
- Is it 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.
*It is recognised that on cold start up of any appliance or open fire, there will be some smoke emitted from the chimney for a short duration, however after this period any smoke must have cleared by this time.
**At any point whilst the appliance is on, there must not be continuous dark smoke coming from the chimney for more than four minutes, or for more than ten minutes within an eight hour period.
Outdoor barbecues, chimineas or pizza ovens
You can use outdoor barbecues, chimineas or pizza ovens; however you need to follow the rules on bonfires. If any of these appliances release smoke through a chimney of a building for example a summerhouse or garage, then only authorised fuel must be used; or the appliance must be exempt.
A practical guide to open fires and wood burning stoves (DEFRA) (PDF) [218KB] (opens new window)
Getting it right - a guide to wood-burning stoves and open fires (opens new window)
Exempted appliances (opens new window)
Authorised fuels (opens new window)
Smoke control order exemptions in Gateshead (PDF) [52KB] (opens new window)
Report a smoke, bonfire or air pollution incident within Gateshead