Yes, we can investigate complaints about smoke where it could cause a 'statutory nuisance', as well as reports of burning trade waste and businesses emitting dark smoke. For smoke to count as a statutory nuisance it must either:
- unreasonably and substantially interfere with the use or enjoyment of someone's home or other premises
- be harmful to their health or likely to be harmful
Read more about statutory nuisance laws on the government's Legislation website.
It's an offence for a business or industrial premises to emit dark smoke, for example from a chimney or furnace. When boilers or furnaces are first lit they may produce some dark smoke to begin with, which is allowed for a short period of time.
Read more about the Clean Air Act 1993 on the government's Legislation website.
Although dark smoke laws only apply to business or industrial premises, if smoke from a domestic chimney is causing a statutory nuisance then we can still investigate. Dark smoke from a chimney may be a sign that there is a problem with the fuel or the efficiency of the fire and it may need cleaning or maintenance.
Burning trade waste
It's an offence to dispose of waste from a trade or business activity without the proper authorisation, and this includes burning it. Anyone who produces waste has a 'duty of care' to ensure it is disposed of appropriately.
Read more about waste laws on the government's Legislation website.
Bonfires and chimneys
If you are being affected by smoke from the regular burning of garden waste, or from chimneys and other fires, you may be able to resolve your complaint by first talking to your neighbour to make them aware of the problem.
An informal approach is usually preferable, as involving the council can sometimes damage relations with your neighbours.
If you don't feel comfortable speaking to them directly at first, we have provided an example template letter for issues with bonfire smoke, but it can be amended to suit your situation:
Neighbour bonfire smoke letter (24kb)
Please note: we have legal powers to investigate and deal with serious issues caused by air pollution, such as smoke. If you’ve sent a letter to your neighbour and it hasn't helped to resolve the situation, or you don't feel comfortable speaking to them, you can report the issue and we will investigate.
In cases where you believe a fire is out of control and endangering public safety you should contact the emergency services by dialling 999.
Please note: this number should only be used in emergencies.
Smoking in public places
Read more about smoking of cigarettes in public places.