Smoke pollution

The Clean Air Act 1993 makes it an offence to emit smoke from chimneys and prohibits dark smoke from open burning in many circumstances.  The aim of the Act is to prevent air pollution and the ill effects it can cause.  The legislation can sometimes be difficult to interpret, but this page gives a simple guide to the parts most likely to be of relevance to residents and businesses. 

Domestic chimneys

It is an offence to emit smoke from a domestic chimney in a smoke control area.  The only exceptions are where the fuel being burned is shown to be an authorised fuel (and wood is not an authorised fuel) or that the fuel is being burned on a fireplace that has been exempted from the regulations, known as an exempted fireplace or exempt appliance.

If you have an exempted fireplace you must only burn the fuels it was designed to burn, as listed on the exemption order, and you must maintain the fireplace in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

To find out which fuels are authorised and which fireplaces are exempt visit: 

To find out if your property is in a smoke control area, just enter your Calderdale post code:

Map showing smoke control area

To find out which areas of Calderdale are subject to a smoke control order, see Calderdale maps online: Pollution.

From time to time the Council undertakes patrols of the Borough to check for smoking chimneys. If you want to report a smoking chimney contact Environmental Health.

Industrial chimneys

Many industrial chimneys serving appliances will require chimney height approval from the Council. This is because a chimney must be high enough to allow the emissions to disperse and become effectively harmless. The criteria are set out in Section 14(2) of the Clean Air Act.

You can use this form to apply for chimney height approval for wood burning furnaces: Chimney height application form [PDF file 33KB]|PDF file. Forms for other furnaces are available from Environmental Health on request.

There is no fee for making an application. Approval will not be given if the Council does not believe the proposed height will be sufficient to prevent pollution.

The Clean Air Act also requires that certain appliances be fitted with grit and dust arrestment. If you are not sure whether this will apply to your appliance you should contact Environmental Health.

An environmental permit may be required to burn certain wastes or use certain types of appliance. Manufacturers and suppliers will not automatically tell you if this is the case, and you should check before purchasing a large appliance that it does not need a permit or that the appliance will be capable of meeting the operating requirements that an environmental permit will stipulate.

Open burning

Occasional garden bonfires are not prohibited by law, but if you are planning to burn in the open you should have consideration for the people who could be affected by the smoke. You should compost your garden waste or take it to a recycling centre instead of burning it if at all possible. Find your nearest Household Waste Recycling Centre or 'tip'.

If you have to burn garden waste:

Regular burning may lead to complaints to the Council, and the Council has powers to take action against a person who is burning garden waste if it is causing a nuisance.

Burning trade and industrial waste in the open may also lead to action by the Council or in some cases by the Environment Agency. Businesses must dispose of their waste in the proper manner and this rarely involves open burning. Advice aimed at businesses can be found on the Environment Agency waste advice|External link.

If you would like to discuss a particular issue relating to smoke control, environmental permits or air quality please contact Environmental Health.

Report smoke

If you are affected by smoke from a bonfire or open burning you should consider speaking to the person doing the burning. For advice about how to approach neighbours, see Neighbours.

If the burning continues to affect you, you can report it to the Council online: Report a nuisance bonfire.

Include details of the address of the house or business where the bonfire is, how often it is happening and whether there is any dark smoke.

To report air pollution that is not from a bonfire use the online form: Report air pollution.

Try to give as much information as you can about the source or location of the pollution and how it is affecting you.

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Last Updated: 19/02/2016