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Smoke control areas and the clean air act

The Clean Air Acts of 1956 and 1968

The UK's Industrial Revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries was powered by coal and factories were often very near, or in, the cities. Coal burning in the home on stoves and fireplaces was also very common for heating. Air pollution was often very great and when it was foggy pollution levels rose and 'Smogs' were formed bringing cities to a standstill and causing many deaths.

Legislative controls on industrial emissions helped somewhat, but people were still burning a lot of coal on multifuel stoves and fireplaces for domestic heating.

After the Great London Smog of 1952 killed around 4,000 people the Clean Air Acts of 1956 and 1968 were introduced. These gave local authorities powers to control emissions of smoke and to declare Smoke Control Areas where burning fuel that produces smoke is banned. Many towns and cities now have smoke control areas especially in city centres and they have been effective in controlling the levels of smoke.

Smoke Control Areas

You are not allowed to burn fuel that emits smoke in a smoke control area either in a stove or fireplace. You are allowed to burn smokeless fuels on multifuel stoves and fireplaces. Smokeless fuels include various types of manufactured coal made mainly from anthracite - these are usually an oval nugget shape (but ask your supplier to confirm they are smokeless), and also Bryant and May heat logs are on the list.

Visit the following website for a full List of Smoke Control areas and exempt appliances.

Read more about Defra Exempt stoves, you can also browse our Defra Exempt stoves.

If in doubt contact your local authority. They can tell you if you are in a smoke control area and will have details of permitted fuels and appliances.