Bristol residents who use wood stoves to heat their homes could face new fines of £300
People who use wood stoves 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 that can cause serious health problems such as asthma, heart disease, strokes, and lung cancer.
Councils in England have been given new statutory powers to issue fines of 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 anyone caught emitting a lot of smoke, before handing out fines if smoke levels persist. The Cabinet is expected to approve the new implementation system during a plenary session on Tuesday, September 5.
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A cabinet report read: “Bristol City Council recognizes the fundamental right of every resident to breathe clean air. Emissions from a small number of solid fuel appliances, especially if they are operated in a way that does not comply with regulations, can raise pollution levels in the short term enough to directly affect the health of vulnerable individuals.
“Burning wood or coal pollutes the air inside and outside homes. The toxic particulates from burning harm the city’s residents and visitors. The Environment Act 2021 enables the local authority to issue a fine of between £175 and £300 if smoke is emitted.
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Exposure to particulate matter from domestic wood burning is much higher than from industry or manufacturing, as people live closer to home chimneys than most industrial sources of pollution. This means that there is less chance of contamination spreading before people are exposed to it, and pollution is released directly into people’s homes using open fires or stoves.
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The new fines are 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 government approved fuels and appliances can be found on the Defra website – but even the cleanest of these stoves will emit huge amounts of harmful particulate pollution.
When smoke is first detected from a chimney, the council will send out an improvement notice outlining the new restrictions and how wood can be legally burned. Then if smoke is detected again, the council will send out a second warning detailing potential fines, before issuing a final notice and a fine of between £175 and £300.