The Clean Air Acts of 1956 and 1968 were introduced to deal with the smogs of the 1950s and 1960s which were caused by the widespread burning of coal for domestic heating and by industry. These smogs were blamed for the premature deaths of hundreds of people in the UK. The Acts gave local authorities powers to control emissions of dark smoke, grit, dust and fumes from industrial premises and furnaces and to declare "smoke control areas" in which emissions of smoke from domestic properties are banned. Since then, smoke control areas have been introduced in many of the large towns and cities in the UK.
The implementation of smoke control areas, the increased popularity of natural gas and the changes in the industrial and economic structure of the UK lead to a substantial reduction in concentrations of smoke and associated levels of sulphur dioxide (SO2) between the 1950s and the present day.
These Acts, together with other associated clean air legislation, were repealed and consolidated by the Clean Air Act 1993 which, together with regulations and Orders made under the Act, provide the current legislative controls.
Under the Clean Air Act local authorities may declare the whole or part of the district of the authority to be a smoke control area. It is an offence to emit smoke from a chimney of a building, from a furnace or from any fixed boiler if located in a designated smoke control area. It is also an offence to acquire an "unauthorised fuel" for use within a smoke control area unless it is used in an "exempt" appliance ("exempted" from the controls which generally apply in the smoke control area). The current maximum level of fine is £1,000 for each offence.
Smoke control areas therefore still exist in major cities and towns and it is illegal to burn ordinary coal (rather than smokeless fuels) in these areas. Wood can only be burned in a growing number of stoves that have been tested for use in Smoke Control Areas by the Department of the Environment. (DEFRA)
Local authorities are responsible for enforcing the legislation in smoke control areas and they can be contacted for details of any smoke control areas in their area. They should also have details of the fuels and appliances which may be used.
Portway stoves, which carry this symbol, can be used in Smoke Control Areas when burning wood, as well as authorised smokeless fuels. They can also be used in smoke free zones in the Republic of Ireland when burning wood or peat briquettes.
To find out if you are located in one of these areas please contact the Environmental Health & Protection Department of your local Authority.
For contact information visit www.direct.gov.uk