Domestic smoke control

Smoke from chimneys attached to dwellings in a smoke control area is not classed as a statutory nuisance.

Domestic wood burning

Wood burning causes harmful particulate air pollution in your home and neighbourhood. Breathing in particulate matter pollution negatively impacts the health of your family and community, affecting your lungs and heart. Can you burn less, burn cleaner, burn better and burn different?

  • Burn less: Reduce burning where possible, keep stoves and fires for particularly cold weather unless they are your only heating source. We know that there are households in Hampshire that burn wood to keep warm, and it’s also important for your health and wellbeing to stay warm and well
  • Burn cleaner: Burn cleaner fuels such as smokeless, authorised fuels or dry, well-seasoned wood with low moisture content
  • Burn better: Use efficient appliances, don’t shut off air or allow the temperature to drop, and service and clean them regularly
  • Burn different: If possible, switch heating source to no or low emission fuels, such as renewable, electric or gas alternatives

If you are having a bonfire, please follow Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service bonfire safety advice, be aware of the impacts of air pollution and be considerate to neighbours, your community and wildlife. Only burn dry, untreated wood and no other household or garden waste, in particular avoid burning firelighters, oil rubber, plastics or any wood with varnish, paint or creosote.

For more information and advice on wood burning, see the Environment Centre website or contact

This awareness campaign is a partnership with Southampton City Council, Eastleigh Borough Council, New Forest District Council, Winchester City Council and the Environment Centre (tEC) charity to help residents improve air quality for their health, their community and the environment.

Do you burn wood in your home?

  • Wood burning causes harmful particulate air pollution
  • Air pollution negatively impacts the health of your family and community
  • Can you burn less, burn cleaner, burn better?


Household burning is the biggest contributor to particulate matter pollution:

Health impacts of particulate pollution

There are laws about burning certain types of waste and to prevent bonfires causing a nuisance.

Bonfires and barbeques

Bonfires and barbecues can become irritating to surrounding premises if the smoke and smell prevents hanging out washing, opening windows and the use of outdoor areas by others.

We would advise against having a bonfire. For alternative methods of safely disposing of your waste, please see what can I recycle.

If you do have a bonfire, try to avoid burning at weekends and bank holidays. Make sure you only burn dry material and do not leave a fire unattended or smouldering. 

The council can take action if the smoke can be classified as a statutory nuisance. For this to be the case, it must:

  • Unreasonably and substantially interfere with the use or enjoyment of a home or other premises
  • Injure health or be likely to injure health

To determine whether smoke is causing a statutory nuisance, we will take into account:

  • The amount of smoke
  • How often it happens and for how long
  • How unreasonable the activity is

If the smoke is drifting across a road and endangering traffic, please contact the police.

If a nuisance, in the opinion of the local authority, is caused by smoke from bonfires or barbecues, we can serve a statutory notice to prevent it happening. Failure to comply with this can result in a conviction at a Magistrates' Court. This could mean a fine of up to £5,000 and an additional £500 for each day the offence continues after conviction.

Smoke control relating to industrial premises

It is an offence, subject to certain exemptions, to emit dark smoke from industrial or trade premises. This would include any premises which are being used for a trade, such as a domestic premises where work is being undertaken.

An offence under this section of the act may result in a fine not exceeding £20,000.

Burning commercial waste

Businesses should not burn any commercial waste, not even cardboard. You have an obligation to dispose of waste in a legal manner, which does not include burning.

If you believe a fire is dangerous, please call the Fire and Rescue Service immediately on 999.

Report a smoke nuisance

If you are suffering from a smoke nuisance, we would encourage you to speak to the person or business creating the problem. If this is unsuccessful, we may be able to help.

Please note: We are unlikely to deal with a one-off situation in a formal way unless the nuisance is particularly significant or is affecting a large number of households.

Make a complaint about smoke