Your fire or wood burning appliance could be polluting our borough

Release Date: 10 February 2020

Residents with real coal fires or wood burning appliances are asked to check what they are burning to help reduce pollution in the borough.

While emissions from vehicles and industry remain the biggest cause of air pollution, wood burning is a growing concern for experts who have noticed the impact of the increasing popularity of stoves and open fires on our already polluted air.

According to research by King’s College London, between 28,000 and 36,000 people die prematurely as a result of air pollution every year in the UK and 38% of this damaging particulate matter comes from domestic wood-burners and open fires.

For many years Richmond has been a ‘Smoke Control Area’. This means that you cannot emit grey smoke from a chimney and should either burn an authorised fuel or use an ‘exempt appliance’, for example a Defra approved stove. Authorised fire logs or coal are treated to reduce pollutant and so can be burned on an open fire. Dry storage is essential – any damp fuel may cause smoke.

Residents are encouraged to check the label of any fuel before it is purchased. Authorised fuels will say that the product is suitable to burn in a Smoke Control Area.

Cllr Martin Elengorn, Chair of the Environment and Sustainability Committee, said:

“The damage to our health from air pollution is only just beginning to be fully and widely understood. We are breaching legal pollution limits across London and it is vital that everyone plays their part in trying to reduce air pollution.>

“Many people don’t realise the restrictions that limit what you can burn. I urge all residents, before you light the match on your fires or stoves; please check that you are using authorised wood or coal or burning fuel in an exempt appliance. This will mean that harmful toxins are minimised.

“It is also worth remembering that you can be fined up to £1,000 if you break the Smoke Control Area rules.”

See the smoke control information on to find out what is and isn’t allowed. 

Notes for editors

If you are a journalist and would like further information about this press release, contact Fenna Maynard on 020 8487 5182.

Reference: P042/20

Updated: 27 February 2020