What if You Live in Smoke Control Area

If you live in a town or city in the UK, you are most likely living in Smoke Control Area. Under the Clean Air Act that was adopted in the 1950s and 1960s to stop the devastating smog, the local authorities have the right to designate Smoke Control Areas within which it is prohibited to use appliances that emit smoke. And since wood burning stoves emit smoke, does this mean that you cannot burn wood logs to heat your home within Smoke Control Area? Not necessarily. Let’s see why.

According to the Clean Air Act, all smoke producing appliances with the exception of ‘exempt appliances’ are not allowed within Smoke Control Areas. This means that you may burn only smokeless appliances but you can also burn smoke producing appliances including wood burning stoves that have been tested and proven to emit low emissions by the DEFRA. How can you tell which are exempt wood burning stoves and which are not? You can ask your retailer for an advice or check the list of exempted appliances on the DEFRA official website. Keep in mind, however, that there are some further rules you must follow in order to avoid breaking the law.

In addition to burning a DEFRA approved wood burning stove, you are also obliged to burn exclusively authorised fuels. Since producing too much smoke is an offence, be sure to use only fully seasoned wood which has been dried to a moisture content below 20 percent. But guess what? This is exactly the type of fuel that will give you a maximum heat output and enable you to keep your home pleasantly warm at a low cost. Why? Because unseasoned wood is not only creating lots of smoke that can get you in trouble at your local authorities but it also gives up to 50 percent less heat output in comparison to fully seasoned wood. And besides failing to produce a pleasant warmth, burning unseasoned wood can also result in excessive build-up of soot and creosote in your flue which in turn can cause fire in your flue or chimney.

Besides making sure that the wood logs are fully seasoned, you are also highly recommended to always choose hardwoods over softwoods. As much as the Smoke Control Area rules are concerned, it does not matter if you use softwood or hardwood as long as the wood fuel is properly seasoned but it is worth to remember that hardwoods have a higher caloric value and burn a lot longer than same size softwood logs. You will pay slightly more for hardwood logs but you will burn fewer logs and still feel pleasantly warm.

All fuels which are not specifically authorised or ‘exempt’ by the DEFRA are prohibited. This means that you are allowed to burn seasoned wood logs and some smokeless coal nuggets but you are not allowed to burn manufactured or treated wood, flammable liquids, household rubbish with the exception of small amount of paper to lit the stove, coke and non-exempt coal.