Air pollution

Some sources of air pollution, such as smoke, dust and smells can cause nuisance to neighbours and communities, and affect air quality in the district. There are a number of different laws in place to stop air pollution and nuisance which we have powers to deal with.

Smoke from Chimneys

The Wakefield district is covered by a Smoke Control Order. This means it is an offence for smoke to be emitted from chimneys. Any heating appliance in a building with a chimney or flue is covered by the Order, including domestic fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, range cookers and boilers. To comply:

  • Only use an "exempt appliance" and operating conditions which is approved for use in a Smoke Control Area
  • Only use "authorised fuels" in a Smoke Control Area which are "smokeless" - such as gas and electricity - or have been tested to show they can burn without producing smoke
  • Follow the guidance on open fires and wood burning stoves in the downloads​
  • Only burn wood labelled “Ready to Burn” where its moisture content is less than 20 per cent, this means it will have been dried out for 2 years or kiln dried to reduce emissions and impact on appliance performance
  • See also We all breathe the same air.  This has been produced by chimney sweeps and provides clear advice on the procedures to follow when lighting a stove to minimise smoke emissions

For a list of exempt appliances, authorised fuels and further information on Smoke Control, visit the DEFR​A web-site.

Suppliers of fuels

From 1 May 2021 suppliers of fuels must comply with the Air Quality (Domestic Solid Fuels Standards) (England) Regulations 2020. 

  • All wood fuels (ie natural logs, chip pellet, reformed log/briquette) sold in volumes less than 2m3 must be certified "Ready to Burn" which confirms the  fuel has a moisture content of 20% or less.  [Some renewable fuels exempt e.g. coffee/olive/wine logs but not allowed in our smoke control area].
  • Over 2m3 sold with an advisory note to customers to dry the wood until 20% moisture is reached before use.
  • Manufactured Solid Fuels (MSFs) need to meet emissions standards and be certified "Ready to Burn". Listed fuels here. Fuels - Defra, UK.
  • Should not sell bituminous (house) coal unless they are an approved coal merchant who can sell it loose or in open bags only until 30 April 2022.  

Suppliers of fuel please see guidance Domestic solid fuels: rules for local authorities in England - GOV.UK (

Residents if you are buying from a supplier and they don't follow above please report it to Environmental Health on 03458 506506.

If smoke or other emissions are coming from an industrial chimney then it is likely that other specific controls may also apply. For example, the need to have an Environmental Permit.

Smoke from Bonfires

Bonfire smoke can be very irritating to neighbours and so we strongly recommend alternatives to burning waste, such as composting and recycling. For more information about how to dispose of waste visit our Bins and Recycling page.

It is not against the law to have a bonfire, but if you do decide to have one it is against the law to cause a smoke nuisance to neighbours, here are some tips to help prevent complaints:

  • Ask neighbours if they mind you having a bonfire
  • Make sure material isn't damp or contaminated with paint, bitumen, plastic or rubber
  • Don't burn plastic, tyres, oil, foam, batteries, aerosols or household rubbish
  • Ensure the wind direction doesn't cause smoke to drift towards neighbours or cause a danger to traffic
  • Don't leave a fire unattended, smouldering or let it get out of control
  • Avoid burning when people are out enjoying their garden at weekends and bank holidays

Commercial operators are not usually allowed to burn waste unless they have a Permit or have an Exemption from the Environment Agency.

Bothered by Smoke, Dust or Smells

We have produced a leaflet Your Neighbour, Your Choice which explains your options for dealing with neighbour complaints, but if you are affected by smoke, dust or smells from domestic or commercial premises then contact us for help.

dust management checklist is available to help you manage construction site dust.

What action will the Council take?

We aim to provide the most suitable response to each complaint received.  In most cases a simple advisory letter is all that is required, but if this doesn't work then our officers will investigate to see legal action using statutory nuisance powers is required. See our guide: What is a Statutory Nuisance?

Contact Us

Environmental Health Wakefield Council Wakefield One PO Box 700 Burton Street Wakefield WF1 2EB

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