Smoke Control Areas

The whole of the city of Stoke-on-Trent is designated a Smoke Control Area under the Clean Air Act.

To check whether your property is within the city boundaries, please follow this link to our ward information

It is an offence to emit smoke from a chimney of a building, from a furnace or from any fixed boiler if located in a designated smoke control area. This applies to any stove or appliance that is vented by a chimney and so it includes greenhouse stoves and heaters.

It is also an offence to use an "unauthorised fuel" within a smoke control area unless it is used in an "exempt" appliance. The current maximum level of fine is £1,000 for each offence.

The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has powers under the Clean Air Act to authorise smokeless fuels or exempt appliances for use in smoke control areas in England. The approved appliances and fuels have passed tests to confirm that they are capable of burning without producing smoke.

What is an authorised fuel?

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 without producing smoke.

What is an exempt appliance?

Exempt appliances are appliances (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. Follow this link to visit the Defra website for a list of Exempt Appliances

The appliances listed are exempt in England when using the specified fuels and operated in accordance with the manufacturer’s conditions.

What about wood burners and multi fuel stoves?

Many wood burners and multi fuel stoves feature as exempt appliances. So long as the appliance has been satisfactorily installed, that the diameter of the flue is sufficient in accordance with manufacturer’s guidance and that an authorised fuel is being used, it is acceptable to install and use these sorts of appliances in a smoke control area.

What about open fires?

Burning coal, logs or wood on an open fire is likely to cause smoke emissions from the chimney. To comply with the law, you need to ensure that you only use an approved smokeless fuel, for example, Sunbrite, Coalite, Homefire, etc. Your local solid fuel merchant will be able to give you more advice and supply you with an authorised fuel. The burning of wood and logs must only be done on an approved appliance and always in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

Do I need Building Regulations approval?

Installation work relating to heating appliances burning solid fuel, wood biomass and associated systems for heating, controls, hot water etc. are subject to the requirements of Building Regulations.
HETAS registered installers carry out this work. HETAS is the official body recognised by Government to approve biomass and solid fuel domestic heating appliances, fuels and services, including the registration of competent installers and servicing businesses. If the work will not be carried out by a HETAS registered person then Building Advisory Services must be informed as soon as possible.

Follow this link for more information about HETAS or contact Building Advisory Services on 01782 232459 or by email

In addition, if you are fitting, altering or replacing an external flue, chimney, or soil and vent pipe it is advisable to check if you need planning permission.

Troubled by chimney smoke or odour?

When a solid fuel appliance is first used it is usual to expect some minimal, initial smoke and odour. However, if the smoke from a chimney continues excessively or someone is persistently affected by a smoke odour, then we may be able to investigate as to whether the smoke or odour is causing a statutory nuisance.

Our initial investigations usually start with the complainant completing log forms to evidence the details of when and how they are being affected. We then try to observe and witness the alleged smoke or odour and consider the possible cause of the problem in deciding whether there is any further action we can take. Depending on the circumstances we may also involve colleagues from Planning or Building Control and industry experts such as HETAS.

If you wish to make a complaint or require any further information or advice please contact Public Protection officers via our call centre on 01782 234234 or by email