Smoke control areas: the rules

Many parts of the UK are smoke control areas where:

  • you cannot release smoke from a chimney
  • you can only burn authorised fuel, unless you use an appliance approved by Defra (also known as an ‘exempt appliance’ or ‘Defra approved appliance’)

In England you may have to pay a penalty of up to £200 for the first offence if your chimney releases smoke in a smoke control area, £300 for any subsequent offence.

You can be fined up to £1,000 if you buy unauthorised fuel to use in an appliance that’s not approved by Defra.

Find out if you live in a smoke control area

Residents can check if their property is in a Smoke Control Area on the Councils Website:

Online maps (

What you can burn in smoke control areas

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’re using a Defra approved appliance:

  • anthracite
  • semi-anthracite
  • gas
  • low volatile steam coal

Exempt appliances that can burn unauthorised fuels

Unauthorised fuels, such as wood, can only be burned in exempt appliances such as some boilers, cookers and stoves.

You must only use the types of fuel that the manufacturer says can be used in the appliance.

Outdoor ovens, burners and barbecues

You can use outdoor barbecues, chimineas, fireplaces or pizza ovens in smoke control areas.

If your appliance uses a chimney on the roof of a building (for example, a summerhouse), you can only burn authorised fuel unless it’s an exempt appliance.

Garden bonfires

You’re allowed garden bonfires in smoke control areas but you need to follow the rules on bonfires.  Solihull’s Code of Practice for Bonfires can be found here: Bonfires |

Statutory Nuisance

You can still use outdoor barbecues, chiminea, fireplaces and pizza ovens but remember excessive or toxic smoke from these could still be considered a statutory nuisance, especially if it impacts on the health or quality of other people nearby. 

Councils must investigate complaints about issues that could be a ‘statutory nuisance’ (a nuisance covered by the Environmental Protection Act 1990).

If they agree that a statutory nuisance is happening, has happened or will happen in the future, councils must serve an abatement notice (usually on the person responsible).