Domestic solid fuels - stoves, fireplaces and boilers

This page covers the legislation and health effects of burning solid fuel in fireplaces, stoves and boilers. Please see the separate page for information about smoke control areas or for outside burning please see our page on bonfires.

When wood or coal is burned, it creates smoke that releases very fine particles into the air that we breathe. Evidence shows that these fine particles (PM10 and smaller) can enter the bloodstream and have detrimental effects on health. According to the UK Clean Air Strategy 2019, the burning of solid fuels in homes is the single largest contributor nationally to PM2.5 particulate emissions, at approximately 38%.

Burning properly seasoned and dried wood can reduce the level of pollution from a domestic stove by up to 50%. Burning wet wood increases emissions and has a greater impact on air quality. Smoke produced from wet wood also increases stove maintenance and repair needs, making it more expensive to run and harder to keep in a safe, effective condition.

What can you do to reduce environmental impact?

Only buy bags of wood clearly labelled as ‘Ready to Burn’ by a certified supplier. Consider buying a moisture meter to ensure the wood you burn has a moisture content of 20% or less.

Storing your wood

  • Bags should be protected from direct rain.
  • Ensure firewood is kept off the ground.
  • Allow air to circulate. A pallet will let air flow beneath it.
  • If storing indoors, always keep an adequate distance between your stove and your firewood.

Looking after you appliance

Appliances require regular maintenance to continue performing safely and efficiently.  

It is important to have your chimney swept, at least twice a year.

Supply of wood and solid fuels - rules for traders

In an effort to reduce the amount of smoke produced by firewood and coal, new legislation came into effect on 1 May 2021, with rules for traders selling or providing solid fuels, known as The Air Quality (Domestic Fuels Standards) (England) Regulations 2020.

Bagged firewood

Bagged wood and kindling is required to carry the 'Ready to Burn' label, which demonstrates that the wood is certified and contains less than 20% moisture.

Wood – volumes under 2 cubic meters

Suppliers of loose wood under 2m3 must be registered under the ‘Ready to Burn’ scheme to ensure wood supplied contain less than 20% moisture.

Wood – volumes over 2 cubic meters

Wood and wood products sold in volumes over 2m3 do not need to be certified as 'Ready to Burn', but they must be sold with a notice giving advice on drying and an explanation of the issues of burning wet wood.


It is an offence to supply pre-bagged and loose bituminous coal to domestic customers. All solid fuels need to be Defra approved smokeless fuels such as anthracite or low volatile steam coal.

Clean Air Night – 24 January 2024

Milton Keynes City Council and other councils across the country have teamed up with Global Alliance to spread the message about new evidence that wood burning hurts your health, your wallet and the planet. View more information at the Clean Air Night webpage.

Other legislation

If you do choose to install a wood burning stove, even in an existing fireplace, it needs to comply with building regulations. The easiest way to do this is to have it installed by a HETAS engineer. You can also have it inspected by a Building Control inspector. If you don’t comply with building regulations this may affect your ability to sell your house or re-mortgage, or lead to enforcement action by Building Control.

Environmental Health contact information

Postal address:, Civic, 1 Saxon Gate East, Milton Keynes MK9 3EJ