Smoke Control

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is a smoke control area, which means that it is an offence to emit smoke from a chimney of a building, or from a furnace or any fixed boiler. It is also an offence to use an 'unauthorised fuel' unless it is in an 'exempt' appliance, and even then, it must be a specified fuel for that exempt appliance. The current maximum level of fine is £1,000 for each offence.

If you use an open fire, stove, or other wood or coal burning appliance, you need to know what Council requirements apply. This page will inform you about what you can and can't do. If you need more information please visit www.uksmokecontrolareas.co.uk, or email us at air.quality@rbkc.gov.uk.

Smoke control is important because this borough and much of London suffers from poor air quality which poses a significant risk to health. The Royal Borough's Smoke Control Order was made in 2004, under Section 18 of the Clean Air Act 1993. We can provide copies of the Smoke Control Order on request at the email address above.

Open fires in the home

You are able to enjoy a real fire at home on the condition that you burn smokeless coal or use certain specific types of wood burning stove or furnaces.

Smokeless coal is sold by some hardware shops, petrol filling station and DIY stores and is clearly labelled 'smokeless coal'. Smokeless fuels are officially authorised by the government and are listed on the Defra website. You must not burn any wood on an open fire, although a small amount of kindling or timber wood can be used to light the fire. If an Environmental Health Officer finds ordinary house coal, or another unauthorised fuel being burned in an open fireplace, she/he is obliged to serve notice to stop it because it is an offence under the Clean Air Act.

Some wood burning stoves and appliances are exempt from these restrictions. The government’s Defra website has a large list of appliances that are exempt and which includes wood burning stoves, room heaters, cookers and other kinds of furnace and the fuels that can be used with them. Stoves and other appliances are different from open hearths in that they are enclosed and have ventilation controls to regulate the burning process at a high temperature.

Be aware that open fires can also affect the air inside your house - see indoor air quality for more information. Advice on how to minimise harmful emissions from using solid fuel is provided in the Environmental Protection UK’s Using Wood and Coal for Home Heating section.

Grills and log burning ovens in restaurants

Charcoal grills for cooking meat and fish are not permitted inside restaurants as the government has not included charcoal grills in its list of exempt appliances, or charcoal as an authorised fuel. However, a gas fired or electric grill would be permitted.

If you wish to serve traditional pizzas in your restaurant using a log burning oven, there are some solid fuel pizza ovens included in the list of exempted appliances that you may use. As well as authorised fuels the list of exempted appliances can be found on the government’s website www.uksmokecontrolareas.co.uk.

Any appliance giving off cooking fumes must be properly ventilated to outside air. In most cases in the borough, adequate ventilation which doesn’t cause a nuisance to neighbours will mean filtered mechanical extract ventilation with an outlet at high level. Advice for this can be obtained from the Environmental Health Department on 020 7361 3002.

Bonfires and barbecues

The smoke control laws do not apply to bonfires and burning wood outside in a garden. Charcoal barbecues, chimineas and firepits are also not prohibited. You should take steps to ensure that bonfires and barbecues do not become a nuisance.  

Nuisance from outdoor fires can be caused by smoke drifting across other gardens being used, or into open windows. It is important to minimise smoke and pollution by not burning rubber, plastics or other materials releasing toxic fumes and keeping the fire hot by not adding damp, or compacted materials. Using paraffin or other flammable liquids to start bonfires or barbecues, should be avoided because of the serious safety risks and the pungent fumes released.  

It is important to be considerate towards your neighbours if you have a barbecue party. Please bear in mind that a combination of smoke, fumes and loud noise can spoil others’ quiet enjoyment of their gardens and balconies and also may be regarded as a statutory nuisance by the Environmental Health Department. If smoke from an outside fire or a barbecue causes a nuisance to neighbours, an Environmental Health Officer may be called out and may decide that it is a statutory nuisance and serve notice under the Environmental Protection Act to abate it (i.e. stop it).