UK Smoke Control Laws – DEFRA Approved Stoves

The UK has what is known as ‘Smoke Control Areas’ relative to the ‘Clean Air Act’. Within these areas the law requires people to use DEFRA Approved Stoves (aka DEFRA Smoke Exempt Appliance) if they want to burn wood. Generally, towns and cities will be smoke control areas. If you choose to ignore the law you risk a heavy fine and probably a fall out with the neighbours you’ve been ‘smoking out’!

What Makes DEFRA Approved Stoves Different?

Approved wood burners have been modified to pass the rigorous emissions tests DEFRA (Department of Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs) carries out to ensure the appliance meets their strict criteria. In short, these wood burners produce a lot less smoke than non-approved appliances.

Is it Possible to Use a Non-DEFRA approved Burner in Controlled Areas?

Yes, but not if you want to burn wood. There are also DEFRA approved fuels available and they must be used to comply with the law.

How Does it Work?

When you starve burning wood of oxygen it produces a lot more smoke. DEFRA approved stoves limit how much the burner can be closed down (starved of oxygen). If you are new to wood burning you might ask what ‘closed down’ means. Regular burners allow you to reduce the amount of oxygen to slow down how quickly the wood burns – Either for economic reasons, to reduce the heat, or extend the burn time so that the fire slumber burns overnight.

What are the Advantages?

If you are living in a controlled area the main advantage is you will not get a fine! However, even if you do not live in a controlled area, these stoves are environmentally friendly, which is always a good reason to buy something and definitely a big advantage for everyone. If you have neighbours, passing on your smoky emissions can be a real nuisance. Another advantage is that your chimney and outlet will need a lot less cleaning.

Do Approved Stoves Cost More to Run?

You might think that because you cannot slow down the burn DEFRA burners are expensive to run. The amount of oxygen delivered is always enough to stop the wood smouldering and so create heavy smoke emissions. However, the wood is burned at a consistent rate and so efficiently and effectively. Yes, it may use a little more depending on how and when you use it. The fact you cannot allow a slow burn overnight can be a little off-putting but in reality, rules are rules and if you live in a smoke free area there is no choice: Not if you want to burn wood that is.

DEFRA approved wood burners come in variety of shapes, sizes and styles. They look great and can create a practical as well as beautiful centre piece to any room. Being much more environmentally friendly than regular burners, if pollution is something that concerns you, they are the responsible choice – Especially if you have neighbours.

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