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Council Warns On Burning Wood and Coal Fires

posted 27 Jan 2009, 01:39 by myEdinburgh Admin   [ updated 27 Jan 2009, 01:40 ]
A recent rise in the number of people burning wood and coal to heat their homes has led the City of Edinburgh Council to issue a stern reminder to residents: Edinburgh is a Smoke Control Area and burning coal or wood could incur a fine of £1,000.

The warning comes as the Council's Environmental Assessment Team reports a rise in the number of calls received about smoking chimneys and from people wanting to burn coal. Local chimney sweeps have also noted a substantial increase in the number of people wanting fireplaces reopened, while manufacturers of fashionable appliances such as wood-burning stoves are reportedly struggling to meet demand in the city.

In 2008, there were 55 calls (complaints and enquiries) made to the Council about smoking chimneys, a rise of 37.5% on the previous year. And so far in 2009, the Team has been receiving at least one call a day on the subject.

The increasing number of incidences is being blamed on recent rises in the price of gas and electricity.

"Our focus will be primarily one of education and information-giving, but rest assured we will not hesitate to take robust enforcement action against those who flout the law," said Councillor Robert Aldridge, Environment Leader. "We all have a responsibility to work to keep the air we breathe as clean as possible. Edinburgh used to have the nickname Auld Reekie - let's make sure we don't let history repeat itself!"

Smoke-free Area

The power to declare Smoke Control Areas was first given to Local Authorities by the Clean Air Acts of 1956 and 1968. Such powers were introduced in response to the smogs of the 1950s and 60s, which resulted principally from the burning of fossil fuels. These Acts have now been repealed and the powers are contained in the Clean Air Act 1993. That legislation permitted a local authority to declare all or part of its area a Smoke Control Area.

By 1995 the whole of Edinburgh had been declared a Smoke Control Area. Under the designation, wood and standard coal can only be legally burned within certain kinds of appliances and stoves which have passed a standard test to show that they can burn these materials without producing smoke. Wood and standard coal cannot be burned in an open fire and a "traditional" log burning stove cannot usually be used within a smoke control area.

Smoking chimneys

Calls to Environmental Assessment Team re: smoking chimney

2004 = 20 calls
2005 = 11 calls
2006 = 40 enquiries
2007 = 40 enquiries
2008 = 55 enquiries
2009 = averaging one call per day

Further information

For further information concerning Edinburgh's Smoke Control Area status or to find out if your wood-burning stove is compliant with guidelines on smoke production, members of the public are advised to contact the Council on 0131 529 3030. Further details about smoke control areas and approved appliances can be found at