Air quality in Newham

Helping to clean up Newham's air: Wood Burning

Newham is a smoke control area

Many parts of the UK are smoke control areas where you can’t emit smoke from a chimney unless you’re burning an authorised fuel or using ‘exempt appliances’, for example burners or stoves.

You can be fined up to £1,000 if you break the rules.

Under the Clean Air Act 1993, Newham is declared as a smoke control area.

If you live in a smoke control area you must comply with the following:

  • It is an offence to emit smoke from a domestic chimney.
  • It is an offence for any person or company to obtain or deliver unauthorised fuels to a building, unless an exempt appliance is in use.

What can you burn in a smoke control areas?

In a smoke control area you can only burn fuel on the list of authorised fuels, or any of the following ‘smokeless’ fuels:

  • Anthracite
  • Semi-anthracite
  • Gas
  • Low volatile steam coals and other ‘authorised fuels’

Unauthorised fuels, such as wood, can only be burned in exempt appliances such as some boilers, cookers and stoves.

Health experts recommend avoiding wood burning stoves altogether due to the harmful level of particulates emissions, enhancing indoor pollution. 

Outdoor ovens, burners and barbecues

You can use outdoor barbecues, chimineas, fireplaces or pizza ovens. Any of these appliances that release smoke through a chimney of a building - for example a summerhouse - can only burn authorised fuel or must be exempt.

Garden bonfires

You’re allowed but should avoid garden bonfires in smoke control areas and follow the rules on bonfires.

Burning household rubbish

You must never burn household rubbish. Please follow this link for more information.

Wood burning and your health

People at home are often exposed to particulates less than 2.5 micrograms in quantities that exceed World Health Organization guidelines for household air pollution (PDF). Short-term and long-term exposure to these particulates, can lead to asthma, heart disease and worsen existing health conditions and risk of early deaths from respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. Even when burning wood in an “exempt appliance” your health is a risk from poor indoor air quality. 

Canal boats and wood or diesel burning for heating

Inland waterway corridors provide a cleaner, greener space for walking, cycling and recreational activities. Trees and vegetation along the waterways help clean the air and regulate the environment for people and wildlife to flourish. While boats are by no means a major contributor to urban air pollution concentrations they can have a localised impact on air quality. Those most at risk from boat engine fumes are boaters themselves. Using cleaner sources of energy, will benefit boaters’ health and contribute to cleaner air for everyone. Please download our informative flyer (PDF) for more information.

Report smoke or other burning related nuisances

If a neighbour is frequently having a bonfire and it is causing a problem, talk to your neighbour. They may not be aware that the bonfire is a nuisance to others. If the problem continues, call us on 020 8430 2000. 

Report a bonfire on an industrial or commercial site 

If you run a business, you must make arrangements to get rid of your rubbish in the right way, either through our commercial waste service or a private waste company. 

Under the Clean Air Act, it is illegal for a business to use a bonfire to burn materials which cause dark smoke such as plastic, paint tins or rubber. You could face a fine of up to £20,000. We will investigate commercial bonfires that cause dark smoke or a general nuisance, to report one, call us on 020 8430 2000. 

If you need help out of office hours call the Initial Response Team on 020 8472 9624

If you think you smell gas, call The National Grid immediately on 0800 111 999