Bristol residents using log burners to heat their homes could face new £300 fines
People using log burners to heat their homes in Bristol could soon face fines of up to £300 in a bid to reduce air pollution. Burning wood releases fine particulate matter which can cause serious health problems such as asthma, heart disease, strokes and lung cancer.
Councils in England have been given new legal powers to issue fines between £175 and £300 to households who emit more than three grams of smoke per hour from chimneys. Bristol City Council is now preparing to start issuing these fines.
Council staff will issue written warnings to anybody caught emitting too much smoke, before handing out fines if the levels of smoke continue. The cabinet is expected to approve the new enforcement regime during a public meeting on Tuesday, September 5.
A cabinet report said: “Bristol City Council recognises the fundamental right of every resident to breathe clean air. The emissions from a small number of solid fuel appliances, especially if they are operated in a manner that does not comply with regulations, could raise short term pollution levels enough to directly impact the health of vulnerable individuals.
“Burning wood or coal pollutes the air inside and outside homes. The toxic particulate matter produced by burning is harmful to residents and visitors to the city. The Environment Act 2021 enables the local authority to issue a financial penalty of between £175 to £300 if smoke is emitted.”
Exposure to particulate matter is much higher from domestic wood burning than industry or manufacturing, as people live much closer to home chimneys than most industrial sources of pollution. This means there is less chance for the pollution to disperse before people are exposed to it, and pollution is released directly into people’s homes with open fires or stoves.
The new fines form one part of the council’s wider strategy to improve air quality in Bristol, which also includes the Clean Air Zone launched in November last year. A full list of all the government-approved fuels and appliances can be found on Defra’s website — but even the cleanest of these stoves will emit huge amounts of harmful particulate pollution.
When smoke is first spotted coming from a chimney, the council will send an improvement notice setting out the new restrictions and how wood can be burned legally. Then if smoke is spotted again, the council will send out a second warning with details of potential fines, before issuing a final notice and a fine of between £175 and £300.