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To ask Her Majesty's Government what controls a local authority can impose on a wood burning stove that has been granted an exemption from the provisions of the Clean Air Act 1993
Under Part III of the Clean Air Act 1993 (CAA), it is an offence to emit smoke from a chimney of a building in a Smoke Control Area (SCA) unless burning an authorised fuel or using an exempt appliance. Local authorities are responsible for designation and enforcement of SCAs.
To obtain exemption, appliances such as wood-burning stoves must pass smoke emissions tests. Exemptions are granted on conditions such as requiring users to operate the appliance in accordance with the manufacturers’ instructions and only burn specified fuels. Local authorities can take action in SCAs where they have identified that a user is not complying with these conditions and an offence has occurred.
We recognise that enforcement of SCAs can be challenging. For this reason, we are proposing to amend Part III of the CAA through the Environment Bill to enable quicker, simpler and more proportionate enforcement of SCAs. This includes enabling local authorities in England to issue civil financial penalties for chimney smoke emissions. This will be possible as the regime will shift from being a criminal to a civil regime. This regime change will also remove the statutory defences, including the use of an exempt appliance or an authorised fuel, that currently hinder enforcement. Authorities have no means by which to determine whether the statutory defences apply as they are unable to enter private premises. These changes should make it easier for local authorities to tackle misuse of exempt wood-burning stoves.