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Smoke Control Areas

Under the Clean Air Act 1993, North Herts Council has declared a number of locations in Letchworth as Smoke Control Areas.

A list of streets covered can be found in the attachment below. Within these areas it is an offence to emit smoke from a chimney of a building, from a furnace or from any fixed boiler.

It is also an offence to acquire "unauthorised fuel" for use within a Smoke Control Area unless it is used in an "exempt" appliance ("exempted" from the controls which generally apply in the Smoke Control Area). The current maximum level of fine is £1,000 for each offence.

Authorised fuels

Authorised fuels are fuels which are authorised by Statutory Instruments (Regulations) made under the Clean Air Act 1993 or Clean Air (Northern Ireland) Order 1981. These include:

  • inherently smokeless fuels such as gas, electricity and anthracite.
  • specified brands of manufactured solid smokeless fuels.

These fuels have passed tests to confirm that they are capable of burning in an open fireplace without producing smoke.

Visit the DEFRA website for a list of fuels which are authorised for use in Smoke Control Areas. There are safety risks from incorrect storage of fuels. All users should check with their supplier how to store fuel safely.

Exempt appliances

Exempt appliances are ovens, wood burners and stoves which have passed tests to confirm that they are capable of burning an unauthorised or inherently smoky solid fuel without emitting smoke.

Visit the DEFRA website for a list of appliances which are exempt for use in Smoke Control Areas.

Outdoor ovens, burners and barbecues

You can use outdoor barbecues, chimineas, fireplaces or pizza ovens within a Smoke Control Area, however any of these appliances that release smoke through a chimney of a building (i.e. a summerhouse) can only burn authorised fuel or must be exempt.

DEFRA has also published a practical guide about open fires and wood burning stoves that aims to reduce the negative environmental and health impacts of their use - see below.