Defra is the UK government Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs; they handle regulations and policies involving the environment, rural issues and food.

You'll see Defra mentioned quite a lot on Direct Stoves, this is because Defra approves stoves for use in Smoke Control areas as laid out in the Clean Air Act 1993. This Act has its origins in Acts of 1956 and 1968. In particular, it:

  • prohibits emissions of smoke within smoke control areas, unless using an exempted appliance or an authorised fuel.
  • prohibits emissions of dark smoke from any chimney, or from industrial or trade premises, subject to certain exemptions.

Defra Approved stoves are those which can legally be used in a smoke control area to burn wood. Using unauthorised fuels can incur penalties and fines of £1000.

Defra Approved Stoves have become very popular over the last few years and accounted for 36% of all wood burning stoves sold in 2013/2014, a raise from 21% the previous year. This is because stove manufacturers are continuously improving their products, by adding secondary and tertiary combustion systems that cut down on their stoves emissions and reduce their user's carbon footprint.

There is little difference between a non-DEFRA approved stove and a DEFRA approved stove. In fact, some stoves can be modified to become DEFRA approved with a manufacturer supplied kit. The kit changes the stove’s air vents preventing them from being fully closed down. Some people load a stove and close the air vents to let the stove burn slowly overnight, this is known as 'slumbering'. Slumbering is not recommended for wood burning stoves as it leaves soot and tar that can block the flue.

A DEFRA approved stove burns all the time, does not slumber and, consequently is far less likely to send part-burned combustibles (soot, etc.) into the air. Good for the environment and much less likely to block chimneys.

Do you live in a smoke control area? Contact your local authority to find out: