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Wood Burning Stove: Can Neighbour Object?

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 3 Nov 2019 | comments*Discuss
 
Wood Burning Stove Smoke Control Area

Q.

I have a neighbour who is insisting that we burn coal instead of dry seasoned wood in our stove. He claims that the smoke is getting into his house even though I have been over and could not smell anything. I had the chimney re-lined when we moved in 6 months ago. Where do I stand on this?

(Mr. W.L, 20 November 2008)

A.

The law regarding this would very much depend on if you are living in a Smoke Control Area and if so, whether what you are burning is classed as an authorised fuel.

Back in 1956 and 1968, two separate Clean Air Acts were introduced to tackle the problems of smoke pollution caused by the widespread use of coal for domestic heating and in industrial premises and furnaces. As a result of these Acts, it gave permission to local authorities to designate Smoke Control Areas in which smoke emissions from domestic dwellings were banned.

Today, these Acts as well other associated clean air legislation have been pulled together and redrawn up into the Clean Air Act 1993.

Without knowing where you live and the fact that you have a close neighbour may mean that you are, in fact, living in a Smoke Control Area, unless you are residing in a fairly remote or rural area. If you aren’t subject to a Smoke Control Area, then the same restrictions do not apply, although it’s advisable to Contact Your local Environment Department to establish your legal position. It might also be the case that while you are allowed to burn dry seasoned wood, your stove or flue may not meet the required standards, so you should check that out too.

However, if you are living in a Smoke Control Area, then it is an offence to emit smoke from a chimney as a result of burning any ‘unauthorised fuel’, including wood, and you can only burn specified brands of manufactured ‘smokeless fuels’.

These are fuels which have been stringently tested to demonstrate that they are capable of burning without producing smoke in an open fireplace.

There are also ‘exempt appliances’ whereby the appliance generally has a smoke chamber which burns off the smoke before it reaches the chimney, allowing you to burn traditional coal and wood that would otherwise be banned under normal circumstances in a Smoke Control area, but you need to ensure your stove is one of those which is exempt.

You can visit the UK Smoke Control Areas website and find out if your borough or district council is completely or partially smoked controlled or if there is no smoke control area in place whatsoever. This site will also give you a list of the authorised fuels you’re permitted to use in a Smoke Control Area.

If, on the other hand, you’re unsure whether you live in an area covered by the legislation, then check with the local authority as you can be liable for a fine of up to £1,000 if you are found to be breaking the law.

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It is utter rubbish to say that any wood burning stoves are safe to use - even the so called defra approved ones emit smoke - lots of it - and it causes a health hazard to neighbours.Why do you think central heating was invented as an improvement? It is a sensible way to heat your house without annoying your neighbours and putting their asthmatic children in hospital just because you are a selfish idiot!
mills - 3-Nov-19 @ 7:31 PM
We have new neighbours. They have just had a wood burner installed. When the wind blows from the west, fumes from their flue terminal are blowing into our flue terminal which is 150 mm from theirs and on exactly the same level. I am just aware of what is emittedby a wood burner. SCARY.I amean not on good terms with this new neighbour but hewill have to overcome the problem of his making.
Bricky - 1-Nov-19 @ 10:06 PM
Where do you stand? Unfortunately under the wheels of a steamroller called the zeitgeist. Today, and I shake my head as I write this, pollution equals urban chic in the minds of trendies who buy these abominations. It is their freedom, they assert, like they are some kind of mountain self sufficient recluse,to do whatever they want in their own house. Whereas in my house, in my garden, through my vents seeps their toxic lifestyle choice into MYspace. I do not want their smoke in my house, my garden, my life. If I want to have a shower I have to scan the rooftops nearby to see if the air is clean enough for me to open my windows to let the steam out. We now eat our main meal at 3.00 clock in the afternoon (being retired) to let our cooking smells out the window as come 5 o'clock the air is black or brown with suburbies returning home from work and lighting up their wood burners. Where do you stand? Unprotected, sidelined, ignored by your environmental health department who declare"woodburning and coal burning are a normal part of domestic living" That is a direct quote from a local council email to me in response to my complaint to them about this outrage. Watch any news bulletin about air quality and you get plenty about cars, or power stations, but very little about people living cheek by jowl with monstrous levels of particulate matter (called pm 2.5's) from coal or wood domestic fires.MOO The pollution from your neighbours is super concentrated(unlike road traffic which is often dissipated,or sporadic, depending on the road you live on) andfor the life of me I cannot understand where all those people have went that pressurised the government into banning smoking in public places. Passive cigarette smoking is a nuisance, potentially dangerous, but inhaling woodburning smoke is a life shortening certainty. That's where you stand. Where I stand. Flabbergasted.
Baffleditsallowed - 8-Oct-19 @ 9:59 PM
My neighbour installed a wood burner,last year.We live in a rural area,the smoke and dust sometimes comes in my son's window,where do I stand with this problem
169 - 5-Oct-19 @ 7:05 PM
our neighbour has built a wooden gypsy like caravan in his back garden, that hes calling his man cave, It over shadows our garden (as its raised off the ground)but has no windows pointing our direction so its fine, The family regularly has late night parties, although in their fifties, but we have had to live with that and advise them early in the morning that they need to keep the noise down a bit, typical heavy drinkers who do not understand the noise they create. The Gypsy caravan this week has had a chimney/flu added to it, so suspecting a wood burning stove has been installed and when fired up last night filled (Was a nice evening so house windows open) filled the house with wood burnt fumes, filled our garage with fumes, next door neighbours with fumes and behind our houses their is a 2 storey block of retirement flats who would have had the same The chimney/flu is around 13m from the row of houses and around the same distance from the council maintained retirement flats behind but is only around 3.5m high with a flat top flu which just pushed all the smoke out sideways and down into the gardens below, Can anyone advise if this needs to be higher so as not to get into the 2 storey buildings all around this Rgds Smokey Joe
Smoked out Garden - 31-Mar-19 @ 7:14 PM
We live in a Bristol council flat.Rules state wood burning stoves not allowed. Last November the neighbour next door put a wood burner in and we had a flat filled with smoke every time it was lit. He burns anything including lead painted,preserved wood varnished stuff old floor boards. We have been in hospital with breathing problems The smoke was coming in though the chimney which we've blocked ourselves.The council have done nothing to help us with this except to say the smoke was not at dangerous levels but the street gets much of it the environmental health have closed the case. We've more or less been told to shut up and put up with it. Bristol council are already in trouble with pollution levels our thanks to our mayor.The neighbour has supposedly produced all the correct paperwork for his wood burner. Apart from the wood stove he got retrospective planning permission for his lean-to and patio doors without proper planning permission.
Vi - 23-Feb-19 @ 7:08 PM
Reading the comments is sad. So many people suffering from this pollution. Wood smoke is carcinogenic plain & simple. So many cleaner alternatives that won’t kill the neighbors. That smoke is funneled outside into other people’s homes. How is this right? So much ignorance and stupidity. Do the research...it’s not something that was made up. Wood smoke contains cancer causing substances which are too voluminous to post. Wood stoves are NOT necessities just like cigarettes aren’t a necessity.How would you like being smoked out of your home each day? My neighbors was one of those neighbors that smoked out everyone. Subsequently her daughter was born with a slew of health issues.That family had too much pride so instead of admitting they were the cause of that child’s demise they moved to Dover (well the wife also did a hit and run in town lol)...the other family lost their home to foreclosure & moved to a trailer park in PA....Karma at its best.Hopatcong NJ
Fran - 2-Feb-19 @ 11:27 PM
To rose Please look at a sister site to this called "woodburning stoves and chimeneas" it's a bit confusing having two sites to post similar issues you want airing. I am just totally baffled as to why students and campaigning groups don't attack the complacency behind this ever growing polluting industry. We need to organise and become militant about this. How we go about this in a non violent way i have no idea. Open to any sensible suggestions though. Anyone?
Baffleditsallowed - 27-Jan-19 @ 2:05 PM
So many stove fires around here, you walk outside and even if you’re outside for a minute your hair stinks of smoke. You can smell them all over the suburb where I live. It bloody stinks. How can they be healthy?
Fedup - 21-Jan-19 @ 6:09 PM
What has happened to the much earlier comments in this forum? I can only find the ones from the last couple of years, I did hear on radio 4 this week that there is now talk about wood burning stoves and open hearth fires, but that it is unlikely the government will do anything about a ban.The situation is intolerable, so much pollution, the low chimney opposite my house still sends out smelly smoke, the neighbours joined onto my friend;s house still sends out smelly smoke, but now, walking from my house to his, I now have to pass three more houses who now have smelly, smoking chimneys, so the use of the things are continually on the ever marching increase. I am not being a killjoy, just seeing the smoke, especially when it is just gentry drifting upwards, it not unpleasant, but it is the smell of it and the effect it has on my health, i have to be concerned about it because of how it affects me, i wish it didn't, i wish i were able to breathe it in without any ill effects, but sadly that is not the case.People might say just move,but that is no answer , especially as the use is increasing so much. A detached house on its own in the country with no near neighbours to be bothered by it, fine, but in an overly built up area, it is just wrong.
Rose - 17-Jan-19 @ 2:22 PM
My neighbour puts dog poo in his wood burner - what an acrid smell.Their chimney render looks awful with tar running down it.
treacleonious - 19-Dec-18 @ 8:28 PM
Too many middle class doctors have bought them.you know. The same folk that exhorted working class people to stop inhaling tobacco smoke as it was bad for them.presumably pm 2.5 wood smoke particles (look it up) is okay to hang over neighbourhoods like an invisible smothering shroud. Death and disease in the future is the only outcome for thousands if people.
Baffleditsallowed - 15-Dec-18 @ 11:53 AM
Live in a none controlled area for smoke, does this mean my neighbour can burn anything in his burner ie painted varnished wood ect
Tony - 25-Nov-18 @ 10:16 AM
North Wales 'Environmental Health' Departments responsible for wilfully failing to take measures to protect a resident from the adverse consequences of coal and wood fire burning, the natural environment and public health at large; in addition to refusing to enforce legislation (e.g Environmental Protection Act, Clean Air Acts) and make use of provisions available to protect health and safety. I have also been met with abusive, deceitful and intimidatory conduct by the principal officer. I first contacted the department after I moved into the property and experienced daily exposure to toxic coal burning by the neighbours and was treated appallingly by the department. Despite the irrefutable scientific facts and evidence presented the officers replying by email minimised and whitewashed my concerns and refused to intervene. On account of the abysmal failure of the department I have been forced to suffer years of harmful and nauseating acrid coal smoke pollution including outside wood stove burning by the adjacent neighbours and other residents committing the same offences; including the local pub with two chimneys bellowing out black coal smoke. My doctor supports my case and can verify the real and detrimental affects solid fuel inhalation has on the human respiratory system andthe environment. I have medical evidence recording a prolonged cough, sore throat and chest including symptoms of heavy passive smoking and choking although I do not smoke. Every day on the calendar I log repeated occurences of the burning throughout the day and night -365 days a year- in all weathers; causing immense distress and feeling trapped being unable to open the windows freely to ventilate the old building and go outside without being made to reek of acrid sooty coal and having to shower again and rewash clothing. I can hardly even put washing on the line outside. The stench from the coal also affects my exercise routine as it prevents my taking a jog freely around the local park as the stench and smog envelops the whole atmosphere and my lungs. I contacted the environmental health dept and spoke a number of times to an officer based there.She asked me to complete log sheets and misled this would be looked into.I also sent video footage and photographic evidence of the black coal smoke bellowing out of the chimney regularly. At no time did the council officers attend the exact site of the offences and did not investigate properly as they had no intention. I have also witnessed the coal merchants who supply the offending property deliver coal every week. The officers indefensible response was to excuse themselves from taking action and the only letter they sent to the property was only to ask they examine the manner in which their solid fuel appliance is being used and not the toxic and cancerous substance inexcusably being used and emitted. I later received a final letter and reply phone call from the Principal Officer refusing to acknowledge the es
Right to clean air - 24-Nov-18 @ 11:04 PM
We have had a problems with our neighbours chimney for the past few years, they fitted a woodburning cooker that is attached to a thermal store so even in the summer when they feel like cooking or heating hot water it goes on.Our windows are open in the middle of summer and the stink of their smoke comes in to our house (our house is on a higher level than them so it comes directly into our windows).There doesn't seem to be much help around, council not really that helpful, neighbours awkward and say it is what they want to do.It is left for you to take it as a civil case or shut up.The other year they lit their stove at 7am and it did not go off until 10pm everyday throughout the summer, house stank of smoke, garden too, did not help our wonderful neighbour was burning lovely lead painted wood and tanalised timber.Should be more regulations and help for those that are affected.
helpless - 28-Jun-18 @ 1:32 PM
GMD - Your Question:
I have just been visited by the police for over an hour at 11pm. My neighbour has accused me of harassment. I have been noting down whenever her log burner smokes and photographing the (extensive) emissions as evidence. We live in a smoke clear zone in a city. We live in a modern town house without a chimney; a 10m flue is bolted to the rear of the house. She has said I am 'intimidating'. The police were not very sympathetic to me even though I explained that I am most concerned for my husband who has advanced Parkinsons and chronic asthma and the smell seeps into our bathroom vent and is revolting. I am just a grumpy old woman with a grudge, jealous of her fashionable wood burner. What a waste of police time.Ban burners.

Our Response:
Have tried environmental health? If you're in asmoke free zone, they are people to contact.
ProblemNeighbours - 3-Apr-18 @ 10:07 AM
I have just been visited by the police for over an hour at 11pm. My neighbour has accused me of harassment.I have been noting down whenever her log burner smokes and photographing the (extensive) emissions as evidence. We live in a smoke clear zone in a city. We live in a modern town house without a chimney; a 10m flue is bolted to the rear of the house. She has said I am 'intimidating'. The police were not very sympathetic to me even though I explained that I am most concerned for my husband who has advanced Parkinsons and chronic asthma and the smell seeps into our bathroom vent and is revolting. I am just a grumpy old woman with a grudge, jealous of her fashionable wood burner. What a waste of police time. Ban burners.
GMD - 30-Mar-18 @ 12:44 AM
Hi Louise For some inexplicable reason there is a sister site to this forum .if you input 'wood burning stoves and chimeneas' you will get to see the recent traffic on this subject. At the moment all we can do is wring our hands in despair at having to endure the unendurable regarding smoke. Councils won't help, your local m.p. simply refers you back to environmental health at your local council. It's a circular flow of complacency. I see that for the first time in decades life span is actually declining and I wonder if polluted neighbours doesn't have something to do with it.
Baffleditsallowed - 15-Feb-18 @ 12:39 PM
Neighbours next door installed a wood burner in their lounge just after xmas, now our lives are a nightmare, smoke wafts over if the wind is in the right direction, I have approached them and they made the chimney a few feet higher ( we are all in bungalows) but it still stinks, I can't have the bedroom or bathroom window open and going outside to the bins you end up stinking of smoke, we aren't in a smokeless area here so they get away with it. Why or why are these things allowed, what about the environment!!! its bad enough with diesel cars let alone smoke from chimneys and bonfires, its about time smoke was banned from these things :( seriously thinking about moving but there could be the same problems elsewhere.
Lola - 6-Feb-18 @ 4:58 PM
Sadique khan mayor of London seems to have started the be!l rolling by calling for wood burning in cities and towns to be curtailed. There are caveats that weaken this welcome initiative such as applying ban to areas that suffer pollution the worst. Asking woodburners to please pretty please consider that what they are doing to their neighbours might be harmful. Asking this from mutters who installed these contraptions in the first place. Whit! Seems Mr. Khan has to "in all fairness" consider the feelings of those poor darlings who went out and bought these devices ....now wait for this..now you will titter.....titter bitterly."..IN GOOD FAITH." Heh heh .....seems these people were conned into buying them as the salesmen who sold them wood burning stoves must havetold them that wood burning stoves were good for the environment. Wood's natural right?However before I finally give up and take a long loknely walk in my pyjama's into an oncoming tide this does at least show someone somewhere with political connections has heard a penny drop. Write to Mr. Khan , or post him a log etched in charcoal two words...."no compromise"
Baffleditsallowed - 9-Oct-17 @ 9:55 PM
Autumn again and neighbours stove goes on. It is lit early in the day and the metal chimney is right next to my home. We are both in bungalows so the chimney is low down. I cannot open the doors to go to the garden. The smell is acrid.I feel I may have to move house as I don't think I can put up with it anymore.
So upset - 2-Oct-17 @ 10:08 PM
Hi, I too have been experiencing a situation with a neighbour. Their mill is attached to the one I live. In Dec 2016 the said chimney was installed through the night with no prior notice, and just appeared - happy xmas (it's too short and too close to my office window/ flat) and is penetrating my apartment (all rooms) with obnoxious smoke/smells at all hours regardless of what season ever since... I've had carbon monoxide tests at the doctors and due for another... The smoke smell has awoke me whilst asleep in bed approx around 5 am. Unfortunately it is affecting me/ my neighbours in the mill but me directly as i am level to the chimney. The smoke's stench reaches me when windows /doors are shut. It's a living nightmare! The council have tried helping (if you can call it that) by sending letters/calling at the property but the owner seems to think he is DEFRA approved/burning the correct fuels (btw he is an artist and works with MDF). To date we have not seen any such documents. I get that people are trying to keep warm but at their neighbour's mental and physical health?? In the light of recent deaths caused by carbon monoxide on tv, you would think that these issues and complaints would be a priority to the local councils?! I am currently waiting for my council's concluded report before taking this to a solicitor. No one really knows what kind of ill health this brings unless you are the person it is happening to.
Stressed out - 17-Sep-17 @ 12:11 PM
Hi there. This was not a problem I was aware of until recently when our new neighbours installed a log burner in their sitting room. Our life has changed horribly :( It's summer, but all windows must be closed in our house, even after showering 3 kids we can't open the bathroom window. Our vents, are all letting in this stinky smoke. Just dashing out to our car on the drive to grab something means returning into our house stinking of this acrid smoke. I can't hang my washing out, my hair smells of smoke. We love our home & street & have been so happy here. It's our forever home. But it on swift move, our new neighbours have changed everything for us? Our house is much higher than theirs & their chimney is very very close to our house due to past extensions to the boundary lines. Everything smells awful & we can't sit in our garden or have our conservatory /back doors open. We live in a smoke free area, and this seems like such a backwards move for our environment. Tons of black smoke, that stinks. What is stopping people from burning anything they want? Our neighbour is a tradesman so I imagine he has access to plenty of things that burn, at my expense:( So upset. Our life has changed!!
Coffeelover - 26-Aug-17 @ 12:06 PM
Hi there. This was not a problem I was aware of until recently when our new neighbours installed a log burner in their sitting room. Our life has changed horribly :( It's summer, but all windows must be closed in our house, even after showering 3 kids we can't open the bathroom window. Our vents, are all letting in this stinky smoke. Just dashing out to our car on the drive to grab something means returning into our house stinking of this acrid smoke. I can't hang my washing out, my hair smells of smoke. We love our home & street & have been so happy here. It's our forever home. But it on swift move, our new neighbours have changed everything for us? Our house is much higher than theirs & their chimney is very very close to our house due to past extensions to the boundary lines. Everything smells awful & we can't sit in our garden or have our conservatory /back doors open. We live in a smoke free area, and this seems like such a backwards move for our environment. Tons of black smoke, that stinks. What is stopping people from burning anything they want? Our neighbour is a tradesman so I imagine he has access to plenty of things that burn, at my expense:( So upset. Our life has changed!!
Coffeelover - 25-Aug-17 @ 6:32 PM
Hi there. This was not a problem I was aware of until recently when our new neighbours installed a log burner in their sitting room. Our life has changed horribly :( It's summer, but all windows must be closed in our house, even after showering 3 kids we can't open the bathroom window. Our vents, are all letting in this stinky smoke. Just dashing out to our car on the drive to grab something means returning into our house stinking of this acrid smoke. I can't hang my washing out, my hair smells of smoke. We love our home & street & have been so happy here. It's our forever home. But it on swift move, our new neighbours have changed everything for us? Our house is much higher than theirs & their chimney is very very close to our house due to past extensions to the boundary lines. Everything smells awful & we can't sit in our garden or have our conservatory /back doors open. We live in a smoke free area, and this seems like such a backwards move for our environment. Tons of black smoke, that stinks. What is stopping people from burning anything they want? Our neighbour is a tradesman so I imagine he has access to plenty of things that burn, at my expense:( So upset. Our life has changed!!
Coffeelover - 25-Aug-17 @ 12:01 PM
Hi there. This was not a problem I was aware of until recently when our new neighbours installed a log burner in their sitting room. Our life has changed horribly :( It's summer, but all windows must be closed in our house, even after showering 3 kids we can't open the bathroom window. Our vents, are all letting in this stinky smoke. Just dashing out to our car on the drive to grab something means returning into our house stinking of this acrid smoke. I can't hang my washing out, my hair smells of smoke. We love our home & street & have been so happy here. It's our forever home. But it on swift move, our new neighbours have changed everything for us? Our house is much higher than theirs & their chimney is very very close to our house due to past extensions to the boundary lines. Everything smells awful & we can't sit in our garden or have our conservatory /back doors open. We live in a smoke free area, and this seems like such a backwards move for our environment. Tons of black smoke, that stinks. What is stopping people from burning anything they want? Our neighbour is a tradesman so I imagine he has access to plenty of things that burn, at my expense:( So upset. Our life has changed!!
Coffeelover - 25-Aug-17 @ 12:01 PM
Hi there. This was not a problem I was aware of until recently when our new neighbours installed a log burner in their sitting room. Our life has changed horribly :( It's summer, but all windows must be closed in our house, even after showering 3 kids we can't open the bathroom window. Our vents, are all letting in this stinky smoke. Just dashing out to our car on the drive to grab something means returning into our house stinking of this acrid smoke. I can't hang my washing out, my hair smells of smoke. We love our home & street & have been so happy here. It's our forever home. But it on swift move, our new neighbours have changed everything for us? Our house is much higher than theirs & their chimney is very very close to our house due to past extensions to the boundary lines. Everything smells awful & we can't sit in our garden or have our conservatory /back doors open. We live in a smoke free area, and this seems like such a backwards move for our environment. Tons of black smoke, that stinks. What is stopping people from burning anything they want? Our neighbour is a tradesman so I imagine he has access to plenty of things that burn, at my expense:( So upset. Our life has changed!!
Coffeelover - 25-Aug-17 @ 11:20 AM
I am wondering why we are moving towards smoke and wood burning for heating and pleasure and convenience when we had tried to eliminate this decades ago.i thought we were trying to save the environment! Why are we ignoring the pollution and damage it can cause to others - I am speaking from firsthand experience and I am shocked how the authority's and government are overlooking this just like they did with diesel. It has got worse to the point I am being exposed everyday to smoke coming into the house and it's getting out of control. Hopefully one day they will hurry up and catch on
fed up - 3-Jul-17 @ 5:26 PM
The reason we suffered is North Tyneside Council and Hetas let my Neighbour get a Defra approved stove, now he burns anything he can find in it. SCARY..
J - 28-May-17 @ 8:52 AM
Multi fuel stoves and wood burning stoves are a nightmare. We have suffered since 2015 and North Tyneside Council do nothing. It is scary how the council close a blind eye to this problem. Smoke free zone should mean smoke free zone, however they see smoke produced but do nothing. They say authorised fuel can be used such as blaze. However this smokeless fuel produces vast amounts of smoke. There should be product recall. There is another way you can fight this is restrictive covenants. These are in the deeds to there property and separate from building regulations. There may be something in there about building or altering your property and has created LOSE OF AMMENITIES to someone else. As long as you can prove it, you have a case. However Restrictive covenants should stand for the past 50 year to stand any legal hold any deeds pre war are hard to uphold...... IM HOLDING GOVERNMENT PETITION IN JULY...... I NEED 10'000 signatures. I will need everyone................
J - 28-May-17 @ 8:48 AM
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