Wood burning

Burning wood and other solid fuels in the home is a major source of particulate matter pollution.

If you have or are planning on purchasing an open fire or stove, or use bonfires, the following page should provide information on what rules and guidance you should follow.

Burning in the home

Wood burning emits harmful particulate air pollution into 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 to a lower emitting heating source like radiators

For more information and advice on wood burning, see the Environment Centre website or contact  cleanair@environmentcentre.com

This awareness campaign is delivered in partnership 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?

Smoke Control Areas

In a smoke control area, it is an offence to emit smoke from a chimney of a building, (commercial or residential), 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. To find out if you live in a smoke control area see the  Smoke control zone map.

For more information on what fuels are authorised and what appliances are exempt, please visit Smoke control areas: the rules - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

Bonfire and barbeques

Bonfires and barbecues are also a key source of particulate matter. They can also cause nuisance to your neighbours, discouraging residents from being outside, opening windows or drying clothes.

For these reasons we would advise against having a bonfire. For alternative methods of safely disposing of your waste, please see our A-Z of recycling.

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.

If you do have 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.

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.

Reporting 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. To report smoke nuisance, please visit Report a neighbourhood nuisance.

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.