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Smoke control areas

A smoke control area is an area set by the council where smoke is not allowed to escape from chimneys, including domestic chimneys. If you allow smoke to escape from your chimney in a smoke control area, you could be prosecuted.

Smoke control areas in Medway

Under the Clean Air Act the council may declare the whole or part of the district of the authority to be a smoke control area. Parts of Medway Council’s district are within a smoke control area which is meant to reduce smoke pollution.  

Find out if your property is in a smoke control area

To find out whether your property is located within a smoke control area please use the Medway Map Service. Select the environment map then select build a map and tick the smoke control areas box.

Smoke control area restrictions

It is an offence to emit smoke from a chimney of a building (including a domestic chimney), from a furnace or from any fixed boiler if it is located in a designated smoke control area.

It is also an offence to acquire an unauthorised fuel for use within a smoke control area unless it is used in an exempt appliance (exempted from the controls that generally apply in the smoke control area). The current maximum level of fine is £1,000 for each offence.

Authorised fuels

Authorised fuels have passed tests to show that they can burn in an open fireplace without producing smoke. They include essentially smokeless fuels such as gas, electricity and anthracite together with specified brands of manufactured solid smokeless fuels.

Visit UK Smoke Control Areas authorised fuels to find out more.

Exempt appliances

An exempt appliance has been tested to ensure it is capable of burning an unauthorised fuel or smoky fuel without emitting smoke.

Visit UK Smoke Control Area exempt appliances to find out more.

Many exempt appliances require specific fuels, in particular firewood that has a moisture content of less or equal to 20%. For more information regarding clean, dry wood, the "Woodsure Ready to Burn" leaflet is available.


You can have a bonfire in a smoke control area because the legislation does not cover bonfires, but you must not cause a smoke nuisance. However, it is best to avoid having a bonfire if possible because it adds to the air pollution. The alternatives are to compost garden waste or shred woody waste or take it to the civic amenity site. Household waste should never be burned and should be put out for the normal weekly collection by the council. It is not an offence to have a bonfire, but it is an offence to cause a smoke nuisance to your neighbours.

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