What is DEFRA?

DEFRA stands for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and is a government department in the UK.

“Defra was formed in June 2001 when the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) was merged with part of the Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) and with a small part of the Home Office. In October 2008, the climate team at Defra was merged with the energy team from the Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) to create the Department of Energy and Climate Change.” (Source: http://www.defra.gov.uk)

Smoke Control Areas

As part of the Clean Air Act smoke control areas were introduced to deal with air pollution in 1950s and 60s – caused by coal fires in homes and industrial buildings. Local authorities decide whether to make all of a district or just part of a district a smoke control area.

If you are in a smoke control area you are not allowed to burn fuels in a fireplace, stove, furnace or boiler that may cause smoke. If you are in a smoke controlled area and found to be burning fuels that create smoke, you could be fined £1000 each time you do this.

By law you are not allowed to sell fuels that create smoke, to anyone within a smoke control area – who doesn’t have an exempt appliance.

DEFRA Approved Stoves

In a smoke control area, a solid fuel heating appliance must be a DEFRA approved, exempt appliance, using only fuel specified in the appliance instructions.

Exempt appliances are tested by DEFRA to show that they meet the smoke control standards for emissions when burning non-authorised smokeless fuels, such as wood.

If you live in a smoke control area but do not have a DEFRA approved appliance you must only burn authorised fuels – anthracite being a popular choice, it is high in carbon and low in volatile matter. A full list of exempt fuels is available on the DEFRA website.

For a list of DEFRA approved stoves, please visit the DEFRA website.

DEFRA Installations

If you live in a smoke control area and wish to install a woodburning stove, the stove installed must adhere to the rules above. If you do not live in a smoke control area then you are not affected at all by this law, but if you do purchase a stove that happens to be DEFRA approved, you can be assured of a clean burning, high efficiency stove.

Before 1st October 2010, building regulations stated that all stoves (wood or multifuel) must be fitted with a minimum 6″ diameter flue system. However as of 1st October 2010 you can install a 5″ diameter flue system ONLY if the connecting stove is DEFRA approved and has a 5″ flue outlet.

To clarify, if you are installing a non DEFRA approved stove with a 6″ diameter flue system, it is perfectly normal for the stove to have a 5″ flue outlet. In this case the piece of flue pipe that connects to the stove with be 5″ and then you must use a 5″-6″ adaptor that will connect the 5″ flue pipe to the 6″ system. This still complies with building regulations.
 

What to burn in Smoke Control Areas 

Wood is not a smokeless fuel, therefore in a smoke controlled zone can only be burnt on a DEFRA approved appliance. However unseasoned or wet wood will burn inefficiently with a lot of smoke. Look for HETAS approved wood or wood that has a moisture content of lower than 25% to be sure you are not failing to adhere to rules.

If you live in a smoke control area but do not have a DEFRA approved appliance you must only burn authorised fuels – anthracite being a popular choice, it is high in carbon and low in volatile matter. A full list of exempt fuels is available on the DEFRA website.

You are legally only allowed to use certain types of fuel in a smoke control area, on a non DEFRA approved appliance – these are:

  • anthracite
  • semi-anthracite
  • gas
  • low volatile steam coals

You can find details of fuels that are approved within smoke control areas on the DEFRA website.

 

Do I Live in a Smoke Controlled Area?

To find out if you live in a smoke control area, DEFRA recommend contacting the Environmental Health or Protection department of your Local Authority.

 

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