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Smoke Control Areas | Air quality | Sandwell Council

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Air quality

Smoke Control Areas

What is a Smoke Control Area?

A formal public consultation has ended. You can download a copy of the results and analysis of this consultation and the Borough of Sandwell Smoke Control Order 2022 from our Air Quality documents page, as well as some frequently asked questions. 

The Clean Air Act 1993 and Smoke Control programmes that were introduced following the Great Smog of London in 1952 have been significant in reducing levels of sulphur dioxide, smoke and particulate matters, and improving air quality. Many parts of Sandwell are already smoke control areas where you cannot emit smoke from a chimney unless you’re burning an authorised fuel or using ‘exempt appliances’, for example burners or stoves.

Smoke control areas are designed to help protect the population from poor air quality and are commonly used in urban areas to combat the negative health effects from chimney smoke. The existing smoke control areas in Sandwell were originally introduced to tackle problems associated with burning of coal, but they also apply to the harmful smoke produced by wood burning stoves and open fireplaces. As the popularity of these products increase, it is more important to stop the harmful impacts on health. Approximately 1 in 12 homes in England now have a wood burning stove. 

The emission of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) from these wood and coal burning stoves and open fireplaces is of greatest concern, as these particles are so small they have potential to cause damage to nearly every organ in the human body. In urban areas like Sandwell, 38% of man-made particulate matter is from domestic burning, whilst only 16% comes from industry and 12% from road transport e.g. cars, vans, buses and lorries.

As a part of a wider effort to help improve local air quality, the Council is proposing to designate the whole of Sandwell as a Smoke Control Area. In Summer 2021 we carried out an initial survey, for adults, young people and business owners, to have their say. 75% of residents who took the initial survey said that all of Sandwell should be designated a Smoke Control Area. 

If you’re not sure if your home or business is in Sandwell you can check using your postcode at this government webpage. Find out if you are already in a Smoke Control Area in Sandwell by using the "Smoke Control Area by Street" Excel document on our downloads page.

A formal public consultation has just ended in June 2022. You can download a copy of the Borough of Sandwell Smoke Control Order 2022 from our Air Quality documents page

You must not buy an unauthorised fuel for use in a smoke control area, unless it is to be used in an exempt appliance.

You can be fined if you break the rules.

In smoke control areas, only authorised fuels are allowed to be burned, unless you are using an exempt appliance.

Key Offences

The key offences arising from the Clean Air Act 1993 are that in a Smoke Control Area:

  1. It is an offence to emit smoke from a chimney of a building (including domestic buildings), from a furnace or from any fixed boiler if located in a designated Smoke Control Area.
     
  2. It is an offence to acquire an ‘unauthorised fuel’ for use within a Smoke Control Area unless it is used in an ‘exempt appliance’ (ie an appliance exempted from the controls which generally apply in the Smoke Control Area for that particular solid fuel) lit and operated in accordance with the manufacturers instructions (using firelighters).

Help with Heating Costs

If you are struggling to heat your home, there are options and support available to help. There are grant options available, such as Winter Fuel Payments or Cold Weather Payments, from the government and energy providers. The Citizen's Advice webpage contains information about grants and benefits to help you pay your energy bills

If you are in debt to your energy supplier, you might be able to get a grant from the energy provider. Some suppliers have options such as British Gas Energy Trust, Scottish Power Hardship Fund, Ovo Energy Fund, E.ON Energy Fund and E.ON Next Energy Fund, EDF Energy Customer Support Fund and Bulb Energy Fund. More information about these are available from Citizen's Advice