Do you live in a smoke control area? If you do, you need to be aware of some regulations surrounding how you can burn wood in your stove.
Smoke control areas are here to help us, though there are often some misconceptions around them. For example, some people aren’t sure whether they can burn wood if they live in one, or whether they need a particular stove.
This guide is here to help you find the answers to some of the most important questions, such as:
- What is a smoke control area?
- Can you burn wood in a smoke control area?
- What are the DEFRA wood burning stoves regulations?
- What else can you burn in a smoke control area?
- How do you know if you live in a smoke control area?
Read on to find out more…
What is a Smoke Control Area?
A smoke control area – also sometimes referred to as a smoke control zone – is an area declared by a local authority where you are legally prohibited from emitting smoke from your chimney, unless you are using an authorised fuel or appliance.
The reason smoke control areas came into legislation is to maintain a healthy air quality. While today’s wood burners can be incredibly clean-burning, stoves and furnaces of the past often released hazardous air pollution into our atmosphere. This can be bad for both our health and the environment.
Smoke control areas are in place to help us. You should follow their rules to ensure your stove isn’t harming anyone around you – though be aware, you could also face a fine of up to £1,000 if you don’t.
Find out more: Smoke Control Explained
Can I Burn Wood in a Smoke Control Area?
If smoke control areas prohibit you from emitting smoke from your chimney, does that mean you can’t have a wood burning stove if you live in one?
The good news is that smoke control areas are not a blanket ban on any wood burning stove at all. Rather, it means that you have to follow certain regulations to be able to burn wood in a way that is both clean and safe.
So, what exactly are these regulations you need to follow to burn wood in a smoke control area? Here are the main issues to consider:
DEFRA Wood Burning Stove Regulations…
You must use a DEFRA Approved Stove to burn wood in a smoke control area
Sometimes also referred to as ‘DEFRA Exempt’ stoves, DEFRA stoves are appliances that have been tested to ensure they produce minimal levels of smoke. These are the only appliances from which you are allowed to burn wood in your home if you live in a smoke control zone. Luckily, there is a great selection of DEFRA stoves available on the market.
If you don’t have a DEFRA approved stove, you can burn other approved smokeless fuels, but not wood.
If you aren’t sure whether your current stove is DEFRA Approved, you can check it on the relevant list below to see if it is:
Find out more: What is DEFRA?
Firewood must be dry and seasoned
Along with your DEFRA stove, you need to ensure the firewood you burn in a smoke control area is appropriate. You must not burn any household waste, such as old furniture, pallets or fencing, as these are likely to be treated with chemicals that can release toxins when burnt.
The firewood you use should have a moisture content of 20% or less to prevent excessive smoke. The Woodsure Ready to Burn scheme exists to help you do this.
Find out more: How to Season Firewood
What else can I burn in a smoke control area?
While you can only burn wood in a DEFRA approved stove, there are other ‘authorised fuels’ that you can use – providing you have a multifuel stove that states it is safe to do so.
Anthracite, smokeless briquettes, firelogs and charcoal are often authorised for use in smoke control areas, though it does vary depending on which part of the UK you live in.
You can check the relevant list below to find out which fuel you are authorised to burn in your smoke control area:
Certain fuels are not authorised to be burnt at all in smoke control zones. Coal, for example, was identified by the Clean Air Strategy in 2019 as being one of the dirtiest fuels in use. Legislation is being phased in to limit the use of coal, though most stove manufacturers already advise against it, as the smoke can damage your stove.
If you don’t want to burn solid fuel at all, gas stoves are not covered by smoke control legislation, so you can fit one of these without concern.
Do I Live in a Smoke Control Area?
Of course, all of this is only relevant to you if you actually live in a smoke control area!
You can find a list of UK smoke control areas here, though you should always check with your local council for the most up-to-date information on smoke control areas before you make any decisions.
Where Can I Buy DEFRA Approved Wood Burning Stoves?
Most stove manufacturers now offer DEFRA approved options as part of their range. You can shop an extensive selection of DEFRA stoves online now at Direct Stoves – we also offer a stove scrappage scheme, allowing you to recycle your old stove and receive 10% off a new DEFRA approved Ecodesign stove.