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Have your say on improving air quality in Sandwell

Published 9th May 2022

Smoke Control Area graphic

Sandwell Council has today (9 May) launched a consultation asking residents and businesses what they think about a proposal to create a borough-wide smoke control area.

A smoke control area could help improve local air quality by reducing the amount of harmful air pollution that can be emitted from wood and coal burning stoves and fireplaces in homes and businesses.

The proposal is part of a wider effort by the council to help improve local air quality and the consultation will run until 20 June.

Sandwell Council is proposing that the 51 smoke control areas that currently exist across the borough are replaced with a single smoke control area that would include the whole of Sandwell.

Smoke control areas are commonly used in urban areas to help protect the local population from the negative health effects caused by smoke emitted from wood burning stoves and open fireplaces.

Only authorised fuels or exempt appliances can be used in a smoke control area, and those breaking the rules can be fined.

Air pollution is a significant issue in Sandwell and some of the most harmful man-made air pollutants are emitted from wood and coal burning stoves.

The emission of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is of greatest concern because these particles are so small they can enter the bloodstream and have the potential to cause damage to every organ in the body.

In urban areas like Sandwell, 18% of man-made PM2.5 comes from burning in homes, while 16% comes from industry and 12% from road transport, such as cars, vans, buses and lorries.

Find out more and take part in the consultation online (the text takes you to a web link).

A copy of the proposed smoke control order and the accompanying plan may be inspected free of charge from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, from 9 May to 20 June 2022 at Sandwell Council House, Freeth Street, Oldbury, B69 3DB.

Dr Lisa McNally, Sandwell Council’s director of public health, said: “The council has a duty to assess air quality to protect the health of everyone living and working here, as well as people visiting Sandwell. Exposure to particulate matter can result in serious impacts to health, especially in vulnerable groups including young people, older people and people with respiratory problems.

“The smoke control area proposal is a key part of our commitment to ensure the people of Sandwell live well and age well. A single smoke control area will contribute to better air quality in the borough and help to improve the health of our residents, workers and visitors, and I would encourage everyone to take part in the consultation.”

Find out more about air quality in Sandwell, and the council’s air quality action plan (the text takes you to the web link).

The consultation ends on 20 June 2022.