Smoke control areas and smoke nuisance


We discourage bonfires as they pollute the air we breathe and gives rise to health issues, safety problems and annoyance. It is far better to use other methods of waste disposal, such as recycling, composting or taking waste to an amenity site and it is not acceptable to burn your household or commercial waste. Everyone has a duty of care to ensure that the waste they produce is disposed of properly or given to someone who is allowed to accept it and should you not comply with your duty of care you could be liable to a fixed penalty notice, unlimited fine or imprisonment.

Our bonfire guidance explains the issues with bonfires and the alternatives readily available for your garden waste.

Dark smoke from industrial or trade bonfires or chimneys and the burning of commercial waste

It is an offence to emit dark smoke from industrial or trade bonfires or chimneys. This can result in an unlimited fine. It is also an offence, subject to very specific exemptions or in accordance with a waste management licence, to burn commercial waste. Dependent upon the offence committed this can result in a fixed penalty notice, unlimited fine or imprisonment. The burning of waste as a result of construction activities does not carry an automatic exemption.

Solid fuels for open fires and stoves

Open fires and wood-burning stoves have risen in popularity over recent years but before using your open fire or purchasing a stove to burn wood please read open fire and wood burning stoves practical guide and a guide to buying, storing and seasoning wood and look out for the Woodsure Ready to Burn label from your wood supplier. To reduce the environmental and health impacts please take a look at the We all breathe the same air publication which provides advice on the lighting of a stove to minimise smoke emissions. Whilst this information is linked to the burning of wood the same principles apply to the burning of other solid fuels.

Sale of firewood and domestic coal

As part of the government's commitment to improving local air quality the sale of domestic solid fuel in England is to be regulated as of 1 May 2021, this includes:

  • mandatory certification and labelling requirements for manufactured solid fuels and dry wood sold in volumes under 2m3
  • requirements to provide advisory information to customers for sales of wood fuel in volumes of 2m3 or more
  • ban on the sale of bituminous (house) coal

The effect of the legislation is that the supply of non-compliant fuels will be a criminal offence with an unlimited fine and also provides powers to local authority trading standards officers to issue a fixed penalty notice to businesses who supply non-compliant fuels as an alternative to a prosecution.

Guidance on the new requirements is available on the following links:

Retailers wanting further advice can contact North Yorkshire County Council Trading Standards by emailing them at and anyone wishing to raise a concern can do so by contacting the Citizen Advice National consumer helpline at

Smoke control areas

Smoke control areas cover the majority of Harrogate and a small area of Tockwith. There are none in Ripon, Knaresborough, Boroughbridge, Pateley Bridge, Masham or their surrounding villages. To check if you home is covered put your postcode into in my area and tick the smoke control areas box on the interactive map.

Whilst you can have an open fire in a smoke control area, you can only burn smokeless fuels or use an approved appliance designed for the fuel you are burning. Smoke Control Areas - Do you know the rules? provides more information and various links to more specific information.

Smoke nuisance

A smoke nuisance may be something that is continuous or intermittent and can happen during the day or night but it must be unreasonable, frequent and have a substantial interference with the use or enjoyment of your home. For example, smoke fills your house. It does not take into account inconvenience, annoyance or personal sensitivities. Being able to see or smell the smoke does not make it a nuisance and it must come from a premises and affect you at your home. There are different controls in place for chimney smoke from houses in a smoke control area.

The government have produced guidance on smoke nuisance.

We will investigate your smoke nuisance complaints but encourage people to try to resolve the matter between themselves in an appropriate informal manner before we get involved, as experience shows, that if done well, it will often lead to better and more permanent solutions.

If you consider your informal approach has not been successful and you want us to investigate your smoke nuisance complaint then please read the smoke nuisance pack which explains in more detail how the matter can be progressed.

Environmental protection enquiries and issues