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 (wood is not an authorised fuel); or
  • when fuel is burned on a fireplace that has been exempted from the regulations. This is 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. 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:

Map showing smoke control area

To find out which areas of Calderdale are subject to a smoke control order, visit: Environmental map .

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:

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: PDFChimney height application form . [PDF 33KB] . 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. You should check before purchasing a large appliance, to see if it does need a permit. Also, to check if the appliance is capable of meeting the operating requirements that an environmental permit will stipulate.

Open burning

Occasional garden bonfires are not prohibited by law. 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 possible. See: Household waste recycling centres .

If you have to burn garden waste:

  • make sure the material is dry
  • feed the fire with small amounts at a time
  • be prepared to put out the fire with water if smoke is drifting across a road or affecting your neighbours.

Regular burning may lead to complaints to the Council. The Council has powers to take action against anyone 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 at: Environment Agency waste advice .

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

Open fires and wood burning stoves

The use of open fires and wood-burning stoves has risen in popularity over recent years. The Council has seen an increase in the number of queries and complaints from residents in our area about this issue.

This increase means that we are seeing more emissions of fine particulate matter from biomass burning and a subsequent increase in air pollution. Domestic wood and coal burning are now the single largest contributors to our harmful particulate matter (PM) emissions comprising almost 40% in 2015. This compares to emissions from industrial combustion (17%) and road transport (13%). The tiny particles in smoke can cause a range of health impacts such as breathing problems and exacerbating asthma as well as contributing to other health conditions.

The guide below is intended to help those using a wood burning appliance to operate it efficiently and in a way that minimises emissions.

PDFOpen fires and wood burning stoves guide [PDF 165KB]

Report smoke

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

If the burning continues to affect you, report it by completing this form: 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 this 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.

See also