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Smoke control and wood-burning

Burning of wood and other solid fuel is a significant cause of air pollution, as well as often causing a nuisance to neighbours. The main pollutant emitted by burning solid fuels like wood is ultra-fine particulate matter, also known as PM2.5. PM2.5 is widely acknowledged as being the air pollutant that has the greatest impact on human health. Both short and long-term exposure to PM2.5 increases the risk of early deaths from respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, as well as increased hospital admissions. Children growing up exposed to PM2.5 are more likely to have reduced lung function and can develop asthma. Current evidence suggests there is no safe level of PM2.5.

Smoke Control Area

The whole of Waltham Forest has been designated as a Smoke Control Area under the Clean Air Act 1993.  This means that it is an offence to emit smoke from a chimney of a building, or from a furnace or any fixed boiler. It is also an offence to use an 'unauthorised fuel' unless it is in an 'exempt' appliance. The current maximum fine is £1,000 for each offence. Find out more about smoke control areas, authorised fuels and exempt appliances on the GOV.UK website.

Wood burning

Domestic wood burning has seen a significant growth in the last 20 years. Having an open fire at home may seem attractive and cosy, but it results in invisible particles of pollution that damage your health and worsen air pollution in the community. Emissions of PM2.5 from domestic wood burning increased by 35 per cent between 2010 and 2020, to represent 17 per cent of total PM2.5 emissions in 2020, significantly higher than those from road transport.

The Council’s advice to residents is not to install a wood burning stove or open fire if you don’t already have one, and to minimise how often you use the wood burner if you already do.

Reporting smoke problems

You can report problems of smoke nuisance on our website.