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Smoke Control Areas and wood burning stoves


You need to know if you are in a smoke control area or not as you cannot burn wood if you are (don’t panic there’s a way around it).

There is a link at the foot of this article, to the DEFRA website, where this information can be found. Cities are almost always Smoke Control Areas. DEFRA is an acronym for the Department of Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs.

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If you are in a Smoke Control Area then you can only burn authorised fuels (generally just smokeless fuels, although the list is available from DEFRA) and NOT wood.

However, if you install a stove that DEFRA has successfully tested then you will be able to burn “exempt fuels” (fuels exempt from restrictions). Each stove has its own exemptions list but in practice the main one is wood (properly seasoned). In other words: a DEFRA approved stove can burn wood in a smoke control area if wood is on that stove’s exemption list (wood usually is but do check).

Another advantage of a DEFRA approved stove is that it can legally be attached to a 5″ chimney liner, but only if the stove has a 5″ collar and the manufacturer does not insist on a larger diameter (e.g. 6″). In all other circumstances Building Regulations state that a liner must be 6″ minimum (or more if stove manufacturer says so). A 5″ liner can be very desirable, or even necessary, if a chimney requires lining but is very narrow or difficult. There are very few stoves above 6kw with a 5″ collar but plenty of 6kw and under.

As an installer I would say that around 70% of the stoves I now install are DEFRA approved models.

Full details of smoke control areas here: DEFRA Smoke Control Areas

By Julian Patrick

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