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Smoke, bonfires and solid fuel appliances

Smoke, bonfires and solid fuel appliances

We have a statutory duty to investigate complaints about chimney smoke and bonfires.

Investigating officers also regularly inspect the borough for smoke and bonfire nuisances and take action against those responsible. 

Smoke control areas

Smoke and fumes from domestic fires and solid fuel heating appliances can cause annoyance to neighbours in built up areas, and can contribute to poor air quality.

We are regularly contacted by members of the public wishing to complain about emissions from chimneys. 

There has been a significant increase recently in the number of people contacting the council for advice about installing solid fuel heating systems, and seeking clarification of the law in relation to wood burning stoves, open fires and chimney smoke within the Chesterfield area.

The Clean Air Act 1993 is the act under which a Local Authority can declare the whole or part of its district as a Smoke Control Area (or 'smokeless zone' as it is commonly known). The whole of Chesterfield Borough has been declared a Smoke Control Area and as such it is an offence for householders to allow smoke emissions from a chimney.

Under the law, coal, oil and wood cannot be burned as heating fuel within a smoke control area, and householders are required to burn an authorised smokeless fuel to ensure compliance with the law. The current maximum fine under Section 20 of the Act is £1,000 for each offence.

Paper, firelighters or sticks can be used to start a fire, and it is reasonable for a smokeless fuel to emit small quantities of smoke for a short time during lighting.

Find out how to get the best from your open fire or wood burning stove.

Reducing smoke from your open fire or wood burning stove PDF (PDF 179 KB)

Open fires and fireplaces

We receive many enquiries from people wishing to reinstate existing fireplaces and heat their homes with solid fuel.

When fireplaces and chimneys have been out of use for many years it is extremely important that they are maintained and repaired to ensure they are safe to use. Poor ventilation, incomplete combustion and damaged chimney linings can lead to chimney fires and smoke, fumes and gases, such as carbon monoxide entering a property and potentially building up to lethal levels. Find out more about the dangers of carbon monoxide here.

It is even possible for fumes and gases to permeate a party wall and affect an adjoining property, so if you are intending to open an existing fireplace or install a new appliance, it is strongly recommended that you consider employing a government approved installer or maintenance engineer.

HETAS (the official governing body for the solid fuel heating industry) maintain an approved list of installers, chimney sweeps and maintenance operatives who have been trained in the safety and good practice of using solid fuel as a heat source. 

Find out more on the HETAS website, or find out how you can becoming a HETAS approved chimney sweep.

Authorised smokeless fuels

Once you are satisfied that the fireplace and chimney are in good order, you must select an authorised smokeless fuel which is suitable for use with your particular fireplace. Your local coal merchant will be able to recommend a suitable smokeless fuel.

See a list of authorised smokeless fuels here.

Wood burning stoves / multi-fuel stoves

When considering installing a wood burning or multi-fuel stove it is essential to get good advice before making your purchase, so as to ensure that the model you select complies with the requirements of the Clean Air Act 1993, and is suitable for use in a smoke control area.

Only DEFRA approved exempt appliances may be used in smoke control areas.

These types of wood-burning and multi-fuel stoves have passed stringent tests to assess their suitability for use in a smoke control area, and to confirm that they can burn solid fuel or wood without emitting smoke.

The appliances must be installed and maintained correctly, and operated in line with the manufacturer’s recommendations.

We investigate complaints of smoke emissions from wood burning and multi-fuel stoves, and part of the investigation process is to determine whether solid fuel stoves are exempt appliances, and whether the appropriate fuel is being burned (see the guide above for advice on how to reduce smoke emissions from your wood burning or multi-fuel stove).

See a list of DEFRA approved exempt appliances here.

If you have any queries wish to make a complaint, please contact Environmental Protection Service using the details given below:

Chesterfield Borough Council
Environmental Services
Environmental Protection
Town Hall
Rose Hill
S40 1LP

Call: 01246 345345


Log a complaint or enquiry online.

Last updated on 06 July 2020