Under the Clean Air Act 1992 (as amended) local authorities can designate Smoke Control Areas (SCAs) within their administrative area.

In a SCA it is an offence to emit smoke from a chimney of a building, from a furnace or from any fixed boiler. It is also an offence to acquire 'unauthorised fuel' for use within a SCA unless it is for used in an 'exempt' or 'authorised' appliance ('exempted' from the controls which generally apply in the smoke control area).

The current penalty for emitting smoke from a chimney is £300, imposed by service of a Fixed Penalty Notice. The penalty for an unauthorised fuel offence is up to £1,000 for each offence, upon conviction.

Consultation on city-wide Smoke Control Area

Oxford City Council ran a public consultation on introducing a city-wide Smoke Control Area between 4 December 2023 and 31 January 2024.

Download a draft version of the proposed new Smoke Control Order.

The consultation has now closed and any objections or comments have been passed on to Defra. If there are any further comments or objections please email airquality@defra.gov.uk or write to Air Quality and Industrial Emission, Defra, Seacole Building, 2 Marsham Street, London SW1P 4DF for Defra to consider further.

The final consultation report with the Public Opinion and Council response to the proposals together with all relevant documents related to the city-wide SCA are available to download.

Smoke Control Areas in Oxford

Oxford city currently has 23 active SCAs. An interactive map is available on the Defra website which allows you to search for specific addresses to see if you are within a smoke control area. You can also access a list of Oxford city streets that are currently covered by SCAs.

Download the original orders for these 23 SCAs.

Map of Smoke Control Areas in Oxford

Map of Smoke Control Areas in Oxford

Crown Copyright and database right 2019. Ordnance Survey 100019348.

What you can burn if you live inside a SCA

Inside a SCA, you can still use outdoor barbecues, chimineas, garden fireplaces or pizza ovens, as long as these appliances do not release smoke through a chimney of a building - for example a summerhouse, otherwise they will only be able to burn authorised fuel or must be exempt.

You are allowed garden bonfires in SCAs, as long as you follow the rules on bonfires described on our Bonfires page.

Legislation that applies to those who live outside a SCA

If you live outside a SCA, you are covered by the Environmental Protection Act (EPA) 1990. Under this act, any smoke emitted from a domestic chimney can be deemed a statutory nuisance if it is prejudicial to health or causing a nuisance.

For the smoke to count as a statutory nuisance it must do one of the following:

  • unreasonably and substantially interfere with the use or enjoyment of a home or other premises
  • injure health or be likely to injure health.

Report a problem

If you think there is an infringement of SCA legislation in our local area, you can report the problem to us using our online form.

Report a pollution problem

Advice on SCA authorised appliances and fuel, and how to burn fuel efficiently

Good practice

  • Consider burning less - Think about why you are lighting your fire as well as how much fuel you use. Is it necessary?
  • Buy ‘Ready to Burn’ fuel - If you want to burn look for the logo as a guarantee of good quality dry wood.
  • Season freshly chopped wood before burning. Wet or unseasoned wood, often sold in nets, is cheaper to buy, but it needs to be seasoned (dried) before burning. Wet wood contains moisture which creates smoke and harmful particulates when burned. This can damage your stove and chimney. It also means you’re losing out on heat for your home.
  • Do not burn treated waste wood (e.g. old furniture, pallets or fence panels) or household rubbish. Treated waste wood, furniture and household waste can emit harmful fumes and toxic pollutants, such are carbon monoxide, arsenic, hydrogen chloride and cyanide, into your home when burnt.
  • Regularly maintain and service your stove. This means it will work better and will generate more heat from what you burn. Always operate your stove in line with the manufacturer’s guidance and only burn permitted fuels.
  • Get your chimney swept regularly (up to twice a year) - During use soot and tar build up in the chimney reducing the efficiency and increasing the risk of chimney fires. It is better to use a qualified chimney sweep who will be able to advise you on good burning practices for your open fire or stove.

Contact the Air Quality Team

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