Smoke control areas in MK

Smoke control areas are about smoke emitted from chimneys, if you want information on bonfires (open air burning) you can view this information in our bonfires section. If you want information about tobacco smoking, please see tobacco smoking for more information.

What is a smoke control area?

Air pollution is the biggest environmental risk to public health. Burning solid fuels is a major contributor to a type of pollutant called fine particulate matter, which is present in smoke. To reduce smoke from chimneys, furnaces and fixed boilers, local authorities are able to designate smoke control areas in their cities and boroughs under the Clean Air Act 1993. Smoke control areas restrict the solid fuel you can burn and the type of appliance you can use in domestic and business premises. In a smoke control you have to comply with the following rules or risk a fine.

If you are a resident or business in a smoke control area,

You must: 

  • Use an authorised smokeless fuel in your fireplace or stove.
  • Use an exempt appliance (appliances which are approved by Defra to be used in smoke control areas) with the appropriate fuel for that stove. 

You must not:

  • Emit smoke from a chimney.
  • Buy or sell unauthorised fuel for use in a smoke control area, unless it's used in an 'exempt appliance'.

Where is the smoke control area in MK?

Milton Keynes City Council has designated a smoke control and you can check your address using our interactive map  or, for quick check, please see the smoke control map attached. The smoke control areas in Milton Keynes were designated in the 1970s and early 1980s. They may be extended in future due to concerns about the harmful effect of fine particulate pollution.

If you live in a smoke control area you may also find Defra's practical guide useful. 

Smoke control areas - what you must do


1. Use an authorised (smokeless) fuel

These fuels emit relatively low amounts of smoke and can be legally burnt on an open grate fire. These fuels are on the list of authorised fuels produced by Defra.

Examples of authorised fuels are:

  • Anthracite
  • Semi-anthracites
  • gas
  • low volatile steam coal

Coal (excluding anthracite coal) and wood are not authorised fuels and must not be burnt on open grate fires.


2. Use an exempted heating appliance

Other fuel may be used in a smoke control area if it is burnt in an exempted heating appliance. These appliances are designed to burn off their own smoke. A variety of appliances have been designed to burn either anthracite, coal (not for domestic use) or wood, or there are multi-fuel appliances available. For the appliance to remain exempt, manufacturer's recommendations must be followed. These appliances are on the list of exempted appliances produced by Defra.

If in doubt check with the manufacturer.


3. Light the heating appliance so as to minimise smoke

The way in which the fuel is lit must cause minimum smoke. Sticks and paper or firelighters are both accepted methods of lighting solid fuel. Some smoke is allowed on start up. The 'BurnRight' guide to using your stove more efficiently can reduce pollution and save you money.

Enforcement of smoke control legislation

Environmental Health is responsible for enforcing the legislation in the smoke control areas. Initially we will write to the resident or business advising them of the legislation and explain what they need to do to comply with the requirements in a smoke control area. If you received a letter of this nature, we recommend contacting Environmental Health to discuss the matter further. If the advice letter and subsequent written warnings are not complied with, the council will issue a financial penalty for the emission of smoke in a smoke control area of between £175 - £300. 

Selling solid fuel in a smoke control area

Traders are not permitted to sell or deliver coal, wood, or any other fuel not authorised as smokeless fuel, for use in an appliance that is not exempted for use in a smoke control area. New rules for the sale of solid fuel for all domestic use, including fire wood, have been introduced by The Air Quality (Domestic Solid Fuels Standards) Regulations 2020. These apply inside and outside of the smoke control areas. Please see our page on domestic solid fuels for more information. 

Smoke from bonfires or chimneys outside smoke control areas

Even outside smoke control areas the emission of smoke may still be subject to regulatory action by the council under the Statutory Nuisance provision of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Smoke can be considered a statutory nuisance if it interferes substantially with a person’s well-being, comfort and enjoyment of their property or is a threat to human health. Such smoke might include smoke from a chimney, bonfire, incinerator or firepit, etc. For more information please see our page on burning domestic solid fuels in a fireplace or our page about bonfires.

Smoke from businesses

As well the statutory nuisance provision of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, The Clean Air Act 1993 also makes it an offence to emit dark smoke from any trade or industrial premises or for businesses to burn anything that is likely to produce dark smoke.

Environmental Health contact information

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