We have 12 smoke control areas declared under the Clean Air Act 1993. 

This means that it is an offence to emit smoke from a chimney of a building, from a furnace or from a fixed boiler in a smoke control area unless you’re burning an authorised fuel or using an exempted appliance.

The current maximum level of fine is £1000 for each offence.

What can I burn in a smoke control area?

In a smoke control area, you can only burn fuel on the list of authorised fuels or any of the following ‘smokeless’ fuels unless you are using an exempt appliance.

  • Anthracite
  • Semi-anthracite
  • Gas
  • Low volatile steam coal


Smokeless coal is sold by some hardware shops, petrol filling stations and DIY stores and is clearly labelled ‘smokeless coal’. Smokeless fuels are officially authorised by the government and are listed on the DEFRA website. You must not burn any wood on an open fire in a smoke control area, although a small amount of kindling or timber wood can be used to light the fire.

What is an Exempt Appliance?

Exempt appliances are ovens, wood burners and stoves which have passed tests to confirm that they can burn an unauthorised fuel without emitting smoke.

You can use outdoor barbecues, chimineas, fireplaces or pizza ovens. However, if any of these appliances release smoke through a chimney of a building - for example a summerhouse – it can only burn authorised fuel or must be an exempt appliance.

The DEFRA website has an extensive list of appliances that are exempt together with a list of authorised fuels.

Please note that even with an exempt appliance or authorised fuel, you must not cause a smoke nuisance to your neighbours or surrounding premises under nuisance legislation, whether your home is within a Smoke Control Area or not.

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 – click on the link below.


Grills and log burning ovens in restaurants

Charcoal grills for cooking meat and fish are not permitted inside restaurants as the government has not included charcoal grills in its list of exempt appliances, or charcoal as an authorised fuel.

However, a gas fired, or electric grill would be permitted.

If you wish to serve traditional pizzas in your restaurant using a log burning oven, there are some solid fuel pizza ovens included in the list of exempted appliances that you may use.

Find out if you live in a smoke control area

Contact the Environmental Health department to find out if you are in a smoke control area.

Telephone 020 8207 2277 or email environmental.health@hertsmere.gov.uk