Pollution control - Clean Air Act 1993

Clean Air Act

The Clean Air Act 1993 controls domestic and industrial smoke. This legislation and changes in fuel usage over the past 30 years have helped the UK to meet air quality standards for sulphur dioxide and particulate set by EU Directive 80/779/EEC. The Environmental Protection Act 1990 deals with other forms of statutory nuisance and pollution that does not emanate from a chimney.

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Chimney Height Approval

The control of chimney heights enables local authorities to take into account a number of relevant factors in determining the height of a chimney.

Under section 14 of the Act, unless the height of the chimney has been approved by the local authority and any conditions attached to approval adhered to, it is an offence to cause or knowingly permit a furnace to be used to:

  1. burn pulverised fuel
  2. burn at a rate of 45.4kg or more an hour any other solid matter or
  3. burn at a rate equivalent to 366.4 kW or more any liquid or gaseous matter

An application for chimney height approval must contain enough information to allow the necessary calculations to be carried out. Return the completed application form to Pollution@Haringey.gov.uk or post to the address below.

The local authority must consider an application for approval for chimney height for a furnace, unless it is agreed in writing that a longer period is allowed.

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Haringey’s Smoke Control Area

The whole of the borough of Haringey is a Smoke Control area where the emission of smoke from chimneys of dwellings is prohibited. Smoke from industrial or commercial premises is carefully controlled by orders under the Clean Air Act. This means that only authorised fuels can be burned. These include:

  • gas, electricity, low volatile steam coals, coke
  • patent smokeless fuels such as Phurnacite, Coalite, Rexco, Taybrite and Geocite
  • oil-burning appliances like paraffin stoves

There is a recent trend for people to open up old fireplaces to use as an open fire. This is illegal unless one of the above smokeless fuels is used.

Wood burning stoves can be used, so as long as they are approved. However, the council would prefer residents to use only very clean fuels such as gas or electricity to heat homes. Modern coal or wood effect gas fires look almost as good as a real fire (but perhaps never quite equal them aesthetically) and are much cleaner and cheaper to run. You can find more information in Defra's open fires and wood burning stoves leaflet (PDF, 240KB).

Domestic burning legislation, which came into force for England on 1 May 2020, includes certain restrictions such as:

  • sales of bagged traditional house coal and wet wood in units under 2m³ are now unlawful
  • all manufactured solid fuels must now have a low sulphur content and only emit a small amount of smoke.
  • wet wood in larger volumes must be sold with advice on how to dry it before burning
  • a new certification scheme will see products certified and labelled by suppliers to ensure that they can be easily identified, and retail outlets will only be able to sell fuel that is accompanied by the correct label

Defra has produced guidance for Local Authorities (external link) to help them enforce these regulations.

A list of Defra-exempt appliances, together with more detailed information can be found on Defra's UK Smoke Control Areas Page (external link).

From May 2022, Defra provide statutory guidance on the rules that local authorities should apply in smoke control areas under the Environment Act 2021:

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Carbon Management
Level 6 North - River Park House
225 High Road
Wood Green
N22 8HQ

Tel 020 8489 1335
Contact us online

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Page last updated:

December 5, 2022

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