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Following a consultation period, the Smoke Control Order 2017 came into effect on 14 January 2018.

The Order covers all of Dudley Metropolitan Borough and declares the whole borough as a Smoke Control Area.

The Order took into account the borough boundary changes and redevelopment of local areas that had occurred since the earlier Order, at which time some properties were excluded from the earlier designated Smoke Control Area. No properties are now exempted from the Order.

The Order allows the Council to issue a Financial Penalty Notice where smoke is emitted from a chimney serving any building within the Smoke Control Area.

The use of solid fuel in a Smoke Control Area is restricted to:

  • The use of Defra approved/authorised fuels, which are those that have been demonstrated to produce little or no smoke, such as gas, electricity and smokeless solid fuels manufactured specifically for use in Smoke Control Areas. Click the link below for a full list of authorised fuels.
  • The use of a Defra approved fireplace/exempted appliance. Wood and coal are not authorised fuels and can only be burned in a Smoke Control Area in an appliance/fireplace that is 'exempted/approved' by Defra from the Clean Air Act 1993 (as amended) to burn that specific fuel. These are appliances that have been demonstrated to burn fuels, such as wood, without resulting in substantial smoke emissions and have therefore obtained Defra accreditation for such use in a designated Smoke Control Area. Click the link below for more guidance for such appliances.

Exempted/approved appliances must be installed in compliance with a Building Regulations notification. This can be achieved by having the installation undertaken by a self-certification approved contractor (e.g. HETAS). The timber to be burnt must be less than 20% moisture content.

In addition to the Clean Air Act requirements, smoke which is so intrusive or unreasonable so as to interfere with the reasonable use of neighbouring dwellings might prove to be a Statutory Nuisance under the Environmental Protection Act 1990. In such cases the Council is obliged to serve an Abatement Notice upon those responsible. Breaching of such a notice is a criminal offence which can incur a penalty of up to £5000 upon conviction at a Magistrates Court.

It is an offence to acquire or sell by retail for delivery unauthorised fuel for use in a smoke control area other than for fireplaces which are exempted.

What is the impact of wood and coal smoke on health?

When wood and coal is burned, fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is released. These invisible particles have the potential to cause damage to every organ in the human body. The greatest source of man-made PM2.5 in urban areas is from domestic burning at approximately 25%, while 16% comes from industry and 13% from road transport, e.g. cars, vans, buses and lorries.

Breathing in PM2.5 can result in coughs, dizziness, inflamed airways and shortness of breath. It can also increase the risk of pneumonia, COPD and lung cancer as well as cause heart disease and stroke, leading to early death. The impact of PM2.5 can be particularly harmful to children and young people as it can aggravate and cause conditions such as asthma as well as stunting lung growth and cognitive development.

Wood smoke also contains many of the same toxic and carcinogenic substances as cigarette smoke, including benzene, benzo(a)pyrene, and dibenzo(a,h)anthracene.

Reducing emissions from domestic burning

Choosing what you burn and how you burn it can make a big difference to the pollution it creates. Reducing the personal pollution, you and your household are exposed to from domestic burning, is crucial to maintaining long term health and reducing the risk of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.

  • Use a well-designed, properly installed stove or appliance. This can make a big difference
  • Any new stove purchased from January 2022 must meet the minimum EcoDesign standards. Be aware - even Defra and Ecodesign approved stoves can emit high levels of harmful pollution
  • If you have a Defra exempt stove or other appliance that specifies that wood as well as smokeless fuels can be burned, then any wood you burn must have been kiln dried or seasoned (normally for 2 years) to ensure that is has a lower moisture content (less than 20%). Seasoned wood is much less polluting, with 50% less pollution being emitted than from burning fresh logs. It is also more efficient, producing more heat per log and is less likely to cause a chimney fire. Wood that has the Woodsure Ready to Burn label is certified to have a low moisture content
  • Store your fuels correctly to make sure your wood and briquettes do not get damp from the rain or damp in the ground
  • Open fireplaces are the most polluting way to burn solid fuels. If you're using an open fireplace you should only burn smokeless fuels. Smokeless fuels officially authorised by the government are listed on the Defra website
  • You should not burn old pallets, furniture or scrap wood as it may contain contaminants that can be extremely harmful to your health and the environment
  • Any stove or fireplace should be properly maintained, and your chimney should be swept regularly