Smoke Control Areas

Smoke Control Areas and the Clean Air Act 1993

The Clean Air Act of 1993 allows local authorities to declare certain districts, or certain parts of a district, as a Smoke Control Area. This act states that emitting smoke from the chimney of any building or from a furnace or fixed boiler in a Smoke Control Area is considered an offence. Another offence is the acquisition and use of unauthorised fuel, unless it is used in a DEFRA Approved, or Smoke Exempt appliance, which is exempt from from the general applications within a Smoke Control Area. These appliances are required to undergo intense scrutinisation during the authorisation process, and should always be operated according to the specifications and instructions of the manufacturer.

Some of the largest designated Smoke Control Areas include all of Belfast, London, and Manchester. Some smaller, yet still significant Smoke Control Areas include The Midlands, North West, North East, and South Yorkshire in England, as well as the Central and Southern regions of Scotland. In these areas you are only allowed to burn authorised, smokeless fuels, as wood fuel is only allowed to be burnt in a DEFRA Approved stove. However, if you burn wet or unseasoned wood, which may cause excessive smoke, in a DEFRA Approved wood burning stove you will still be using the stove in an unlawful fashion.

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Wood Logs

Only wood logs that have been dried, fully seasoned, and have a moisture content lower than 20% are considered authorised fuel in a Smoke Control Area. This seasoned wood is lighter than an unseasoned log, and will fall with a clack rather than the thud of unseasoned wood. A well seasoned log will also show signs of splitting around the outside, and will have its bark peeling away easily.

An optimally seasoned wood log has been seasoned outdoors for at least 18 months, and sometimes as long as 24, depending on the hardness of the wood. The wood should be covered at the top, and stacked off the ground with enough space between the logs to allow adequate airflow. Compared to an unseasoned log, well seasoned wood will provide an estimated 50% increase in heat output. Hardwoods, such as Ash, Birch, Oak, and Elm, can be used as authorised fuel, as the denser wood means a longer burn time and a more effective heat output, resulting in less time between refills.

Wet or unseasoned wood will cause excessive smoke, an inadequate flame, and a soot buildup in your flue system. It may also cause a chimney fire due to the higher temperature of flue gases caused by the buildup. These unseasoned woods also results in other problems for the environment, as well as the fuel economy.

Manufactured woods should be avoided as fuel for your wood burning stove, as the chemicals used in their production could produce smoke harmful not only to you, but to your wood burning stove and flue system as well.
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Unless a fuel has been specifically approved for use in a Smoke Control Area, it is considered an unauthorised fuel. Subsequently, the burning of these fuels in a Smoke Control Area is considered an offence, as these fuels would cause nuisance smoke, and damage your stove and flue systems.

Petroleum Coke

Petroleum coke can potentially cause serious damage to important elements of your stove, including fire bars, grate, and baffle plate, due to its high temperatures.

Bituminous House Coal

This type of coal is not only bad for the environment, but it also causes extreme amounts of soot deposits in your stove and flue system, which means they would need to be cleaned more often.

Household Rubbish

Manufactured wood, plastics, rubber, and household rubbish should not be burnt, as they will not only cause damage to your stove and flue, but will also produce potentially harmful smoke, gases, and other substances. Additionally, newspapers, magazines, and other printed matter should only be used in limited amounts, such as to start the initial flame, and not as the main fuel source.

Flammable Liquids

Petrol, methylated spirits, and other highly flammable liquids should never be used when lighting a fire, as they may lead to an explosion in the fire chamber of the stove, causing large amounts of damage to your stove, as well as your home.

Regardless of whether or not you are situated in a Smoke Control Area, Lee Davies Fireplace and Brickwork Specialists will be able to assist you with expert advice, sourcing, and installation services that are sure to meet all of your needs. We extend our services to a range of Smoke Control Areas, including Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Berkshire, Bedfordshire, London, Dorset, and Devon.
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