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Wood Burning Stove: Can Neighbour Object?

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 22 Nov 2020 | comments*Discuss
Wood Burning Stove Smoke Control Area


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)


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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I would like to see the end of this chimney fumes. I taped up every single vent in the rented house but the chimney fumes are still coming in. We cannot have the windows or doors open in the wintertime this is duringtheday and nighttime. I suffer really bad from this and having sleepless nights. It's causing massive arguments between me and my husband as I keep on blowing my nose and coughing when it's time to sleep. Anything to have clean air.
Airy - 22-Nov-20 @ 1:42 PM
...cntd from previous. But we've seen their slow, agonising pace before when it took them until 2013 to eventually enforce even the minimum of particulate emission restrictions on diesel engines (Euro 5b), resulting in people like me having to give up cycling to work for 25 years (the length of a life sentence), while the USA (yes, the USA!) saw fit to enforce emission restrictions as early as 1998 which were adequate to prevent the use/sale of poor-emission European diesel vehicles.Anyway, why print this here?Well, about 5 houses within 500metres of mine have now had these fires (plus flume/chimney) retrofitted to their previously "clean-air-friendly" properties and I now have to keep all my windows closed for most of the day and night between October and April unless I want to feel like I'm permanently sitting by a campfire, downwind!I am a singer and an active person, and my life in Britain has been severely affected, not least my fitness and health, because of the constant propensity to pollute the air in this ignorant, backward country.I can only conclude, from reading text about this on "Problem Neighbours" and other related websites, that I may as well not bother complaining because the laws of this land are not on the side of the active, healthy living person.There is never any emphasis on clean air in the UK and people just love to pollute.Please share any similar views/experiences so that I can at least feel like I'm not the only Brit suffering here.Thanks folks.Phew, feel better now! (as long as I keep the windows shut).Peace, Daz.
Daz - 13-Nov-20 @ 12:57 AM
Hi all I totally understand and appreciate all the stress you are all experiencing due to these log burners. I have an issue where I live and the mental stress, aside from covid-19 and other health issues is really taking its toll. Can anyone suggest a decent pm2.5 particle monitor please? These particles are so toxic, worse than pm10's. I just can't understand why they are allowed to pollute the air. Surely this is so unhealthy? The fumes are rancid, acrid, stale and often blow in well into the early hours after burner is inactive. We like our windows open in all weather, but the stench just blows in, this is in the summer too, I just don't understand why the burner is used in the summer months, bizarre! Any advice is much appreciated. Good luck to you all.
Buzby - 12-Nov-20 @ 6:12 PM
I was on bronchodilators and other inhalers for my Emphysema, it kept getting worse with severe shortness of breath. My primary care provider adviced i try a more natural approach and referred me to HERBAL HEALTHPOINT, i immediately started on their COPD FORMULA. The herbal formula treated and reversed my lungs condition. Go to their web page ww w. herbalhealthpoint. com. The shortness of breath, mucus and others stopped after i completed the  treatment.
Graygubler - 10-Nov-20 @ 7:12 PM
I am having terrible problems with a downstairs neighbour in this converted house of three flats that I live in, on the first floor (middle) flat. They have installed a wood-burning stove (themselves) and something is very very wrong with the installation as since 29/09/2020 smoke and awful acrid smelling smoke is coming up to my flat from behind the cistern in the bathroom and around the area in my kitchen where the fireplace used to be, now sealed up and plastered over as in all the rooms in my flat. I have tried to gently speak to them, but had the door slammed in my face. I have spent days on the phone to the local council building control as I was informed that for self installation you have to notify the building control department and they have to come and see the finished installation and sign it off! None of this has been done I have found out but the council just will not come and see it no matter how many times I phone and complain I have been up all night again coughing and sneezing, feeling sick from the flat filled with smoke and smoke smells. I have phoned many companies over England who deal with wood-burning stoves and am told the chimney has to be lined, a crack in the chimney could be the cause of the smoke coming into my flat etc. But nobody seems to care. These wood-burning stoves need to be banned now!!! Has anybody any suggestions as to what I can do about this awful, health wrecking problem, please?
Gillydee - 4-Nov-20 @ 9:09 PM
My next door woodnymph brags that he has never had his wood burning stove cleaned or tested since he put it in 4 years ago. His smoke and toxic fumes come down the roof into my back yard, cant open windows or doors as the smell takes ages to dissapate. We live in a smokless zone all i get off the council is,he is allowed to burn wood in a defra aproved fire. I ask who vets the fires to see if he has a certifacateevery year but never get an answer.
Sayjim - 2-Nov-20 @ 8:59 PM
My neighbour claims he is a reverend. No reverence here. His woodburning stove has been lit for a monthnow. God help.me. The vile smoke billows around my house. My daughter has had extremely bad asthma attacks. I cannotopen my windows which I like doing every morning. The smell sometimes is sulphur ! There should be a law banning all of these vile burners. He burns anything and everything. He is a total inconsiderate horrible man
Rish - 24-Oct-20 @ 9:44 AM
Sitting here wondering who is filling my house with a wood burning stove fumes.
Ianjg - 30-Aug-20 @ 9:02 PM
Oh god. Here they come. Autumn and winter. Already,(today is in the last week of august 2020)chimneys around my way are limbering up and spewing out the poison. Not all of them. Just the deeply committed fiends dedicated to impoverishing your health and the many, many for miles round. When will it ever be made to stop?(Rhetorical, alas).god help us. Please google Victoria White's article "The truth hurts, but lungs full of smoke hurts more" For me, I've been practising to see if I can actuallyhold my breath for the coming entire six months, hey I can already do two whole minutes. Good luck everybody. Winter is coming.....
Baffleditsallowed - 28-Aug-20 @ 11:53 PM
I really feel for everyone here. I live in a rural valley and the smoke from 9 wood and coal fires bounces off the street. In winter, the children's coughing is like something from the 1950s. My immediate neighbour is a narcissist and uses his fire as a weapon. When anyone complains he puffs his chest out and declares that nothing will stop him and he has a while field of trees to cut down. Vile specimen. This is UK in the 21st century. All that ignorance makes me despair for the future.
Twiddlingthumbs - 28-Jul-20 @ 8:05 PM
These sites are common, so many complaints about wood burners It’s a shame that there wasn’t a way to put all the complaints together, I was told by our environmental health officer ,that I was an isolated case. It is far from being isolated, in fact it is nothing short of a national health hazard To allow these burners to be sited in residential areas. I thought we were trying to make the air cleaner for our children. Perhaps it they taught the future of tomorrow how much harm burning wood does to people,maybe the parents would stop effecting their neighbours health and their own. I really do feel for you stardust, and all the others who are having to suffer particle matter and fumes when they should be breathing fresh air
Cleanair - 20-Jul-20 @ 7:32 PM
Wow! So many of us in exactly the same boat! Bloody stinks... Literally!! I ask myself why oh why would you burn anything in your Woodburner during the summer. I have asthma and severe hay-fever etc. Also the irony, if the smell is too bad I open my lounge window and the same neighbour smokes in a conservatory with a window open that comes straight into my house also???!!! They do it on purpose I am sure because they were after half of my garden from the council so I think that they are trying to 'smoke me out'. I have a child also and it affects him? Selfish people in this world?
Stardust - 16-Jul-20 @ 9:01 PM
How do neighbours of these log burners get noticed. I've tried, Hetas, defra, local and government mp's and all point me into the direction of our council environmental health. Unfortunately they haveno electronic test equipment and are never been around when the problem happens, they finish work at 5pm and the log burner is lit Overnight.this produces the most pollution. I have also bought a meter which at its worst gives a reading of over 45 Pm 2.5, that is bordering on unhealthy air quality. Our neighbour has freshly cut trees delivered regularly, so has a plentiful supply of different types of wood some of which smells foul when burnt. The air in our home can be that bad that it causes breathing issues,burning eyes and coughing.No helpin this covid 19 environment These symptoms are horrible to live with,and I have the greatest of sympathy to those of you who are suffering the same as us, with no help. Reading all the separate posts from around the country, this is clearly a problem that is nationwide,and is not being addressed.
Cleanair - 25-Jun-20 @ 9:41 PM
My neighbours woodburner is so hot that it has cracked my living room wall, we have fixed the wall but it has started to crack again
Cuxy - 12-Jun-20 @ 6:28 PM
We have exactly the same problem which is giving me anxiety to be honest. We have woke this morning at 7am by son who has been to the toilet and the bathroom smells of smoke/fuel from the chimney of a log burner which is installed at window height in my neighbours conservatory. We have contacted council, local mp and to be honest no one is interested/bothered. We now have made the decision to move, but now I'm bothered that we won't be able to sell because anyone with any intelligence will see the monstrosity of the chimney and realise what will plume out of it, I'm sure it will be also devalue the house. Anyway to show how selfish/unintelligent these people with log burners are, the said neighbour has been in hospital with corona virus but yet lights the log burner and also stands over a lit chimenea coughing away! What can you do
Dbruckers - 30-Apr-20 @ 8:13 AM
Thank you very much Baffleditsallowed. I shall try to save up, can't get out much now because of the lockdown (though you could be forgiven for thinking there was no lockdown in my area as so many people around here are just going out and ignoring the advice anwyay, which adds to the stress, but that's another story) so not spending so much money as I normally do when shopping as only go out once a week for essentials. You gave very good information and I have made a note of everything. thank you again.
Rose - 21-Apr-20 @ 2:52 PM
Hi rose. Firstly you are not alone. You get across perfectly well how angry, frustrated and baffled you/we all are that this scourge is allowed into our home. Secondly. Definitely get an air monitor first. I've bought the iq air monitor (swiss made) for £250. It tells you what amount of pm 2.5's are in the air)(it's a small black band on the screen of the monitor) That way, by getting the monitor first (if budget allows)you will at least know where you are. It also tells you how much co2 is building up in your home and advises you , er, cheerily, "when you should open your windows if air outside is clear) The IQ monitor does not, and no other monitorI know of out there in the market, differentiates between what type of smoke is torturing you. Know this though. Cigarette smoke, unpleasant though it is, is far less a threat than woodburning smoke. A cheaper purifier out there than the IQ air should alleviate the worst of the smells, including tobacco smoke, but please remember it is cheaper for a reason.....it clears the big pm10 smelly molecules but not all,if any,of the pm 2.5's. So you have a trade off. If it's the smell of smoke you want to clear from your room a purifier of about £250 should make a vast improvement, but if you want to stop the tiniest, tiniest, ..er...the actually most lethal pm 2.5 particles damaging you, day by day,then you have to pay for a top of the range purifier, and that costs about £900, from a company called Allergy Cosmos. This is a hellish position for anybody on limited means to be put in, and all I can do is shake my head and wring my hands in empathy for you. And hope you can either move home or find the amount you need to deal with this sheer bloody torture we are condemned by our government and local council's to endure.
Baffleditsallowed - 15-Apr-20 @ 3:42 PM
gah! For some reason this site wants to put the words *understanding* and *graphs* all together as one word.I hope you understandwhat I was saying, Anxiety levels running high and then this site not displaying the posts properly,
Rose - 14-Apr-20 @ 2:10 PM
Sorry about the annoying typos in the post below this one,Also some of the words come out in the finished post with no spaces between them, even though there are spaces between every word when I post the comment. ~~~~~~~~~~ Anyhow, the following statement: "I feel the need to explain that no the smell of cannabis is not caused by me, but comes in from my adjoining neighbour, and I never know if I'm beveled or not " should have read "never know if I'm *believed* or not". ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ And "I'm not that good with understandinggraphs" should of course read: "understandinggraphs.
Rose - 14-Apr-20 @ 2:06 PM
I was interested reading about the air purifier, Baffleditsallowed, sadly can't afford to pay out that much for the monitor and the purifier together, but I suppose it's wise to get both. I would like to start with trying to get an air monitor though, I remember hearing something about an air tester kit or something that Friends of the Earth were offering, I think it was them, not sure, shall have to have a search on that, but I also get bothered by cigarette smoke and the smell of cannabis coming into my home from the adjoining neighbour, who not content with blasting my small residence with loud music and noise, bangingdoors and moving furniture around in middle of night, but smokes like the proverbial chimney, he's a chain smoker and the smell of that seeps into my house through the walls, it irritates the back of my throat, I can't escape from it anywhere in here, I am shut in my bedroom and the back of my throat starts irritating and feel I want to cough, and then when i open the bedroom the smell of cigarette smoke so strong, and all through the back room and in the bathroom, also they have fry ups in the middle of the night often and that comes in here as well. As soon as I come in from outside, at the foot of the stairs, you'd think a smoker lived in my house, and one who smokes weed, and whenever the meter reader , or anyone, has had to come in for any reason, I feel the need to explain that no the smell of cannabis is not caused by me, but comes in from my adjoining neighbour, and I never know if I'm beveled or not as they might think that I would say that, knowing they can smell it, and it niggles at me that they might not believe me and think it's me smoking the place out. Anyhow, sorry digressing all round the houses here, would you think it a good idea to just get the air monitor first if i can find one? I'm not that good with understandinggraphs and readings and whatever the results might say, Would it tell me what any air pollution was in here, I mean what was causing it, and whether wood smoke or cigarette smoke?Would it be able to tell the difference and let me know howmuch was wood burner smoke particles and how much cigarette smoke, or weed smoke , participles in the air in here? Thanks for your time, if you read this, and sorry I don't feel I'm that good at explaining myself.
Rose - 14-Apr-20 @ 1:57 PM
Like the waterbombing suggestion. Where I am at I am thinking of spreading cow dung in the garden to see how my neighbour feels
Sas - 13-Apr-20 @ 5:53 PM
My neighbour had a log burner installed last Autumn.The smell drops directly in to our garden. Just walking from the car into the house makes my hair / clothes stink.I'm at an age where I get hot flushes.I was unable to open my windows over the winter for the smell.Now, at a time when we are not allowed to leave the house due to Coronavirus, I am unable to use the garden for the fumes bother my chest.It's hot weather! Why do they need the log burner on? I live in a village in Nottinghamshire.All the urban areas are smoke control areas,yet our pretty large village 'in the country' (where you would expect to have clean air) is not.We don't feel able to approach our neighbours as we've already had a fall out over them wanting to store their logs on our land! They have never been considerate towards us.We're just expected to put up with this.It's good to have somewhere to vent my frustration.Just a shame nothing can be done about it.
Sadgirl - 8-Apr-20 @ 6:35 AM
Lee Get an air purifier you won't regret it. A good one. See my post below.
Baffleditsallowed - 5-Apr-20 @ 12:15 PM
Really fed up with woodbuners, we have had to move 3 times in the last 2 yeas due to these things, my child has asthma and difficulty with the fumes coming into the house, we have to close our windows now at 4pm every night as our neighbour lights his up then. Though even with the windows closed it still seeps in. It's not even cold outside I just don't understand how these things are legal... Contacting the council seems to do nothing either..
Lee - 4-Apr-20 @ 6:24 PM
Why don't we all retaliate and simply pour water down the offending neighbours' flues, if we have access?I know we would be found responsible for damage to their property (aaah, I'm welling up here...), but atleast it would highlight the problem and possibly compel the government to ban woodburners.We could organise a national day of water bombing and could give it some fancy name, such as "Aquavenge" or "H2O to the rescue".I'm quite long in the tooth now, so am prepared to take desperate measures.Any views on this?
waterwillsortit - 4-Apr-20 @ 11:53 AM
All winter I have been choking on fumes from my next-door neighbour's illegally installed wood burner.Both the police and Bury council's environmental health team are shockingly inept and ineffectual (my neighbour refuses to let anyone into his property, so his denials cannot be verified).This is Kafkaesque!
waterwillsortit - 1-Apr-20 @ 10:57 AM
Had to laugh last night at 8' o'clock at my neighbours out clapping our nhs workers while from their roofs billowed toxic plumes over the neighbourhood from their wood burners. The same smoke that has thousands of copd sufferers lying on hospital beds using ventilators that otherwise could be used for corona victims.why don't our politicians see this.and ban woodburners and coal smoke producers in the same way they very sensibly stop individuals harming others today by congregating in groups.
Baffleditsallowed - 27-Mar-20 @ 9:38 AM
Having to stay indoors so much now, and the smoke from the chimney opposite billows everywhere, I still have to go out to get shopping and also get provisions for my elderly friend. His adjoining neighbours are stinking everything out with their wood burner, just opening the front door to put rubbish in the bin and you start coughing from the smell, and i come home with the smell of it in my hair, then have to walk through the smoke from the house opposite me, and the smell of the smoke which also comes into my house, makes me cough, and then i worry because i'm coughing, not least because i'm afraid people will hear me coughing and think i have the dreaded plague. I don;t know why China is not being held accountable for this. Their cruel treatment of live animals, keeping so many different species in small crates all waiting to be killed,species that would normally in nature, never come into contact with one another, that is apparently what has caused this mutated virus, but that is another story. If only people had stayed put when it first broke out and let the Chinese authorities deal with it, as they were advised to do by the government, but no, they had to demand to be brought back over here, and elsewhere in the world, so spreading it everywhere, and so the wood burning stove issue applies to this as well, in that it makes people cough and mucks up their bronchial tubes and air passages and so makes them more susceptible to infection as a result.
Rose - 26-Mar-20 @ 12:14 PM
Clive, you're right. Mustn't turn this into an urban v rural thing. I live in a detached suburban house in a seaside town in Scotland and my retirement is diminished due to woodburning neighbours. One has one in his hut and two in his house! The other 8 neighbours have thoughtfully only decided to torment me with one each. If I were you Clive I would mitigate your current plight as I have done and fork out £250 for an IQ air monitor, and another £900 for an iq air health pro plus air purifier. I got mine from Allergy Cosmos. Cheaper purifiers don't cut it as they only clean the air to 0.3 micrograms, you need to cut it down to 0.003 . You can gauge the indoor pollution from your neighbour with the air monitor, and this will tell you what speed to put your purifier onto, and run it at low during the night. You need both, or you will use your purifier filter unnecessarily. This will help your health and your sanity. The government have "boldly" decided to help the health of it citizens by bringing in regulation to ensure cleaner smoke. I know, they're having a laugh. Regulating wood smoke stoves will have the same effect on health as the bright wheeze of putting filter tips on cigarettes in the name of safety. Sometime, for god's sake surely, some politician will have an epiphany and legislate this scourge from our air.
Baffleditsallowed - 22-Mar-20 @ 2:08 PM
I feel for all those suffering here, and I speak as the owner of a (seldom used) wood burner...I live in a rural area with poor air quality and it is wrong to assume this is an urban problem, it is quite the reverse.Apart from all the wet wood being burned in the village, a new tenant moved in next door two years ago and has been burning, quite legally, the most toxic coal I haver ever smelt in an open fire place. It starts in the morning and continues all day every day,regardless of need...The smoke cascades down from the chimney and air currents funnel this into a toxic blanket that surrounds my home.In damp weather it forms a dense smog....The landlord regards this as romantic, she grew up in the 1950s and has clearly forgotten the death and misery caused by the indiscrimate burning of coal...The EHO has been equivocal at best. Because she is claiming the fire to be primary heating I don't think any action will be taken, even though that was not previously the case...I have always been a fit and healthy outdoor person (which is why I moved here) but I have learned to my cost that any time spent outdoors is going to cause me days or weeks of breathing difficulties and I am afraid the damage has now become permanent...Be warned that an absence of smell does not guarantee clean air and that the wind will not disperse all of the toxins...I am writing this as we head into the coronavirus outbreak and I am frankly afraid for my life
Clive - 18-Mar-20 @ 4:06 PM
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