Smoke Control Areas and Wood Pellet Stoves

Household heating using renewable energy

Smoke Control Areas
If you live in a smokeless zone or smoke control area, you may only burn wood fuel on an "exempt" appliance which is permitted to burn "unauthorised" fuels under the regulations of the Clean Air Act

At present there are only a small number of appliances that have received this exemption even though many wood pellet stoves would meet the standards. Many wood pellet stoves are not yet exempted although this should change in the near future.

What is a Smoke Control Area?

In the 1950s and 1960s smogs caused by the widespread use of coal were blamed for the premature deaths of hundreds of people in the UK. The Clean Air Acts of 1956 and 1968 were introduced and gave local authorities powers to control emissions from industrial premises and to create “smoke control areas” where smoke emissions from houses and factories are prohibited. These original Acts were repealed and consolidated by the Clean Air Act of 1993 which provide the current legislative controls. Separate legislation, the Clean Air (Northern Ireland) Order 1981, applies in Northern Ireland.

These smoke control areas are in effect in many UK towns and cities in the UK and together with the increased popularity of natural gas lead to a major reduction in smoke and sulphur dioxide.

It is an offence to emit smoke from a chimney of a building, furnace or boiler if it is located in a smoke control area or to acquire an “unauthorised fuel” for use within a smoke control area unless it is used in an “exempt” appliance

Your local authority is responsible for enforcing the legislation in smoke control areas and you can contact them for details of any smoke control areas in their area. They should also have details of the fuels and appliances which may be used.
Location of UK smoke control areas

The smoke control areas are listed on the governments smoke control web site at

Authorised fuels
Authorised fuels include inherently smokeless fuels such as gas, electricity and anthracite together with 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.

Fuels which are authorised for use in Smoke Control Areas are listed on the governments smoke control web site at

Are wood pellets an authorised fuel?
No. Not yet.