Smoke and fire


Burning waste

In most situations, burning of waste is against the law. Please find the leaflet below outlining the laws and exemptions concerning the burning of waste.


Burning Leaflet [PDF, 120KB]

Smoke control areas

Plymouth does not have any designated smoke control areas. This means there is no requirement for any solid fuel fires or appliances within Plymouth to be exempted under the Clean Air Act or for only authorised smokeless fuels to be used.

Smoke complaints

Bonfires, wood burners and other similar appliances can cause smoke and odour. This may cause annoyance for your neighbours as well as potentially increasing air pollution which can affect your health.

Environmental Health can investigate complaints of smoke, fumes and gases under the remit of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, to determine whether a statutory nuisance exists. Should a nuisance be proven, the Council has powers to ensure that the problem is reduced or stopped.

If a neighbour is creating smoke which you believe is causing a nuisance speak to them about it first. Smoke (including bonfires) must happen frequently to be considered a nuisance and must be having a material impact on the use and enjoyment of your property. You can report this using the button below or by calling us on 01752 668000.

Please don't burn household waste. You can get rid of your rubbish responsibly by taking it to Chelson Meadow and Weston Mill waste and recycling centres or by composting it.

Domestic wood burning stoves

In order to prevent the likelihood of smoke related complaints it is recommended that exempted appliances are installed and all smokeless fuel to be used where possible. Further information including a list of exempt appliances and authorised fuels are available at: UK Smoke Control Areas - Information  

It is unlikely that domestic stoves will require prior approval from Environmental Health however, you may require Planning permission and Building Control approval. The following steps can be taken to prevent the likelihood of smoke related complaints and reduce the impact on air pollution:

  • Ensure the stove has been properly installed by a competent person
  • Burn properly seasoned and dried wood
  • Do not burn household waste, Defra have produced a list of authorised fuels

For further advice, please view Defra’s guide to ‘open fires and wood burning stoves’.


 DEFRA guide to Open Fires and Wood Burning Stoves [PDF, 219KB]


Report smoke or a bonfire