Home > Ask Our Experts > Wood Burning Stove: Can Neighbour Object?

Wood Burning Stove: Can Neighbour Object?

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 1 Mar 2021 | 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.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
I'm suffering the same. I slept rough last night. There's just nowhere safe to breathe left in Leeds. My room is thick with fumes day and night. Its putrid. I'm even thinking of quitting my job, because I can't work from home any more. I have to go out into the countyside in order to breathe.
Daniel Baines - 1-Mar-21 @ 2:36 AM
Unfortunately-and I am loathe to give the game away-my local authority say that it IS permissable to use wood even in a designated smoke control area;and that a certain amount of smoke is permissable (really?). They refuse to visit, they say they have been assured by the home owner that the stove is Defra exempt, has been installed correctly, and is only biurning approved fuel. They refuse to look at any av photo or footage that I have gathered over three years, and in fact warned me that if I were to film anything they would take me to court and apply an ASBO on me. They will not accept any monitoring evidence from devices, and refuse to use them, stating that their highly trained officers were able to use their discretion. In fact, on one occasion when an officer did visit, he said it was a lovely smell, and why was I complaining. When I mentioned it was about the particulates, the highly trained officer replied, What are those ?
smoked haddie - 23-Feb-21 @ 5:18 PM
Someone near or perhaps not so near, has a wood burning stove. I can smell it in our house, doors and windows closed. Cannot see where it is coming from. I suffer with asthma, have had a sinus infection and a chest infection in just over 2 months. I feel like a prisoner in our home. We are in a smoke free area too. Former neighbour had a fire pit next to our window, smell was noted inside the houses over 60 feet away, imagine what it was like for me an asthmatic!
CathyB - 10-Feb-21 @ 11:00 AM
We have the exact same problem that most people are talking about. Our neighbours have their wood stored outside and when they burn it, it's so acrid and foul smelling that we cannot open the windows in the winter. We have air purifiers in every room, even one that the NHS uses. We have to tape up and block every single opening of our home. We have spoken to them and it made the situation worst as they started burning 24/7. We then went to the council as we are in a smoke free area and they didn't do anything. They just called our neighbour and he said all was above board. Why is this allowed? We wrote to our MP and nothing.This is so toxic and carcinogenic, we have regressed as a nation as it seems that every area now has at least one house that burns wet wood on a daily basis. We feel like prisoners and do not know where to turn. The only option is to sell, but where do we go that will be a wood burning stove free zone? Is there a petition I can sign?
Lee - 23-Jan-21 @ 6:42 PM
I agree with the fight against smoke pollution I live in a rural area where smoke is a serious problem for me as chimneys from neighbours have billowing smoke day and night. I have developed a cough which keeps me awake. I have been in touch with local council, MP and newspaper yet there has been nothing done to change the situation. In fact I have been subject to threats, hostile retorts and offensive remarks.
Audrey - 12-Jan-21 @ 5:35 AM
My home is surrounded by other houses burning obviously ‘wet wood’ as the amount of smoke is ridiculous an continues throughout the day and night.. It pools around in my garden and seeps through air vents which I’ve now taped up. It’s akin to being imprisoned. Honestly feel like I’m going mad! I’m asthmatic and apart from feeling breathless and wheezy all the time,I’m thoroughly miserable as well. How do I find the petition please!
Mawa664 - 10-Jan-21 @ 4:44 PM
I think 100,000 would definitely sign this, if they knew about it!It is titled "Ban wood burning stoves and all solid fuel burning in homes that are on the grid" and was created by D.Verrier.Please sign this and also inform your local MP that you have done so (you get the option at the end after signing and verifying by email).If you are social media savvy, please try to gather signatures from as many people as you can.I have had a miserable Christmas due to the huge pollution problem this "new" trendy product has created.Decades of cleaning up home heating methods and billions spent on connecting most of us to the gas grid eradicated smoke pollution from all towns, cities and major villages.Now we see this positively archaic form of heating sneaking back and the government have just said that it's OK!Apparently the Clean Air Act does nothing for us after all!DEFRA have even declared the latest type of stove exempt from any rules anyway.They pollute about the same amount as open fires and don't even have any particulate traps on the flue/chimney so what's that all about.The talk of burning wood being "carbon neutral" is complete nonsense as well.That would only be true over a timescale of centuries if you had an industry supplying it (like the timber trade).Wood burning produces more CO2 than gas plus you have the loss of the trees you cut down which were absorbing CO2.So over the next 40-50years, you'd see a huge spike in CO2 levels in the atmosphere.Anyway, nothing can justify the pollution/smog I've had engulfing my house in Stevenage for the last month!
Daz - 4-Jan-21 @ 12:22 PM
I did not even know about this petition.Can everybody on this site make up flyers and post them around the town, particularly, colleges, schools and unit's letting people know to simply google "petition, ban woodburning stoves" Not many people know about this petition which, due to lack of awareness, only has 420 signatories. Need 100,000. There must be 100,000 people sick to death ofwoodsmoke. Up to us all.
Baffleditsallowed - 5-Dec-20 @ 7:53 PM
Sign the petition to Parliament, Ban wood burning stoves and all solid fuel burning in homes that are on the grid.
Hamman - 4-Dec-20 @ 7:21 PM
Remove the flu if you for once consideredthe environment and your neighbours health. This is God's earth and no one has a right to poison it and cause a revolting stench to permeate the air we breathe
StopSelfishBurners - 1-Dec-20 @ 6:57 PM
I had an outside flue fitted externally on the side of my property,the property consists of six flats.I had written consent from my management company to have the works done,meeting all building regulations and states in the letter that the freeholders or board as the letter states have no issues with going ahead with the proposed works.I had this installed on 24th December 2015 and now the management company have instructed me to remove the flue after all this time could you tell me where I stand with this please
Dawnie - 1-Dec-20 @ 10:48 AM
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
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments