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Smoke Control Areas: What Log Burner Owners Need to Know

There are lots of unsettling headlines in the news at the moment claiming that people are going to be fined for owning a log burner. Let's chat about what it means to live in a ‘smoke control area’ and what you need to know as a log burner owner.

Block of houses in London
Clean air regulations are affecting cities in the UK.

What is a smoke control area?

The Government defines a smoke control area as one where you:

  • Cannot release smoke from a chimney.

  • Cannot buy or sell unauthorised fuel unless it’s used in a DEFRA-exempt appliance.

  • Can only burn authorised fuel, unless you have a DEFRA-exempt appliance.

This means that households are not able to burn fuels that smoke or use an unauthorised method of burning such as an open fire. Wood can only be burnt in a DEFRA-exempt appliance, such as an approved log burner. Some log burner manufacturers are certified to be used in smoke control areas, such as the Capital Stoves, Charnwood Stoves, and Chesneys. 

What's the difference between a Smoke Control Area and a Clean Air Zone?

While both zones are designed to improve the air quality of a local area, a smoke control area regulates the fuel being burnt domestically and a clean air zone regulates the vehicles being driven through a locality.

Clean air zones are areas that charge the owners of highly polluting vehicles or prevent certain vehicles from entering a town or city. This is to reduce air pollution in a local area and improve the health of those living in cities. These policies can have knock-on benefits such as encouraging the use of public transport within cities.

Do I live in a Smoke Control Area?

In Sussex and Surrey, which are local to Loxwood Burners Sussex Ltd., the following localities are classed as smoke control areas:

  • Guildford, Surrey.

  • Crawley, Sussex.

  • Brighton and Hove, Sussex.

Please click below to see an interactive map of all the smoke control areas in the UK.

Resource provided by DEFRA.

Can I be fined for having a log burner?

You currently cannot be fined for having a log burner in non-smoke control areas.

In a smoke control area, you may be fined a penalty of up to £300 if your chimney releases smoke, and up to £1000 for buying or selling unauthorised fuel. 

If you are looking to buy a new log burner, make sure that it is compliant with DEFRA standards for combustion. Any log burner showroom or supplier will be able to help you find an EcoDesign stove in a style you love. Avoid purchasing second-hand stoves, or stoves that were produced more than two years ago. 

Make sure that you are only purchasing DEFRA-approved smokeless fuel, such as:

  • Anthracite

  • Semi-anthracite

  • Briquettes and firelogs with the ‘Ready to Burn’ logo.

Final Thoughts...

While there are some laws regulating the use of log burners across the UK, it is still possible to enjoy the warmth and ambiance of a fire at home. These regulations are in place to improve the air quality of busy cities and should be taken seriously. Thankfully, most stove manufacturers have been working hard to bring their log burners up to the EcoDesign 2022 standards. There are a fantastic range of EcoDesign 2022 stoves available to purchase, many of which have been approved by DEFRA to use in smoke-free zones. 'Ready to Burn' fuels are easy to purchase from local fuel suppliers and supermarkets, just look out for the 'Ready to Burn' logo.

When moving into a new area, or making plans to purhcase a woodburner, always double check whether you are in a smoke control area. If you are, let the showroom or manufacturer you are purchasing from know so they can helpy ou find a DEFRA-approved stove for your home.


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