Smoke from Woodburners or Open Fires
With fuel prices rising wood burning or multi fuel stoves and open fires are often seen as an alternative way of heating our homes.
Do I live in a smokeless zone?
There are no smokeless zones in our borough so there are no restrictions on the types of fuel burnt or the type of wood burner/stove that you can install. However, it’s still a good idea to install what is called an exempt appliance or burn smokeless fuel. More information can be found at defra.gov.uk
What do I need to be aware of under UK nuisance law?
Regardless of whether you live in a smokeless zone or not, the Council is legally obliged to investigate any complaints made about nuisance smoke and fumes from open fires or wood burners/stoves.
In cases where our evidence shows that smoke or fumes are significantly affecting others we can serve a legal notice on the person(s) responsible, requiring action to be taken to stop the problem or face prosecution for non-compliance.
As well as causing a nuisance, burning fuel in a wood burner/stove or open fire can cause significant pollution that can impact on our health.
With this in mind it is important to properly install your wood burner/stove, use the correct fuel and operate it correctly. More information can be found in the 'We all Breath the same Air' booklet .
Incorrectly installed stoves and flues can lead to fires or dangerous gases entering the house potentially leading to carbon monoxide poisoning or death. It is therefore in your own interest as well as your neighbours to ensure the correct installation.
What materials should I burn on my stove?
Only use well-seasoned dry wood. Wet or green wood will cause unnecessary smoke and may lead to complaints from surrounding properties. Wet wood makes for a much less efficient fire and if you can get it to light at all, the logs that are not dry provide a fire that smoulders and creates a lot of tar and smoke. These tars can be corrosive and potentially damaging to the lining of the flue and increase the danger of a chimney fire.
The national Woodsure Ready to Burn Scheme offers labelled wood for use in wood burners/stoves or open fires. More details can be found at woodsure.co.uk
Do not burn household rubbish or plastics as these may contain harmful pollutants. Do not use treated wood products such as old fence posts or chipboard. They contain glues and chemicals that will cause fume problems when burnt.
Do I need planning permission?
The installation of wood burning or multi fuel stoves is work that is controlled under the Building Regulations, and may require, amongst other things, the re-lining or installation of flues and chimneys associated with the appliances. Please contact the Council’s Building Control Section with full details before installing appliances or carrying out work to flues or chimneys at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Do not attempt a DIY installation following internet or other guidance. Always ensure that any person installing appliances is accredited by one of the following; APHC, Benchmark, BESCA, Certsure, HETAS, or NAPIT to ensure that the work is carried out to all appropriate standards.
On completion these will issue a building regulations compliance certificate and notify the Local Authority of the installation. Alternatively you must apply for Building Regulations approval from a Building Control body.
If you have installed an appliance but not followed the rules you can apply for a Regularisation Certificate from your Local Authority Building Control. All competent persons scheme have 30 days to legally register the installation from the date of completion. If complaints are received about your stove and the appliance or associated flue has not been installed to Building Regulation standards, you may have to pay to have remedial work carried out. Failure to notify the Local Authority of an installation of a stove, can be an offence resulting in enforcement action being taken against the Householders and/or the installer, this could cost anything up to £5000 per breach of the building regulations. Additionally all work we are aware of that does not comply with the Building Regulations may be disclosed to prospective purchasers during searches when a property is marketed for sale or re-mortgaged.
Further information and a list of HETAS approved engineers is available at www.hetas.co.uk