The Reading Borough Council Smoke Control Order 2023

Closes 16 Oct 2023

Opened 4 Sep 2023


Borough Wide Smoke Control Area

In 1975 the last of 21 Smoke Control Areas (SCAs) was agreed, added together, these cover 62% of the borough. To protect all of Reading’s residents from the effects of air pollution that comes from burning solid fuel indoors, the Council is planning to expand the pre-existing SCAs to cover the whole of Reading as a SCA. This is a part of wider efforts to improve air quality across the borough.

It is proposed to consult on expanding the SCAs to cover the whole borough. This will:

  • Reduce the risk of harmful emissions of uncontrolled burning of solid fuels in the areas not currently covered by SCAs.
  • Ensure consistency and minimise confusion in relation to the controls in place for the burning of solid fuels across the Borough.
  • Raise awareness of the health impacts of burning solid fuel on air pollution.

The proposal will not change the rules for the 62% of the borough already covered by SCAs.

Health Impact of Particulates from Solid Fuel

When wood and coal is burned, fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is released, these invisible particles have the potential to cause damage to every organ in the human body.

Breathing in PM2.5 can result in coughs, dizziness, inflamed airways and shortness of breath.  It can also increase the risk of pneumonia, COPD and lung cancer as well as cause heart disease and stroke leading to early death. Children and young people can be more vulnerable to the impacts of PM2.5 as it can aggravate and cause conditions such as asthma as well as stunting lung growth and their cognitive development.

Wood smoke also contains many of the same toxic and carcinogenic substances (cancer causing) as cigarette smoke, including benzene, benzo(a)pyrene, and dibenzo(a,h)anthracene.

Smoke Control Area Rules

The Order will make it an offence to emit smoke from a chimney of any building, or from a furnace or any fixed boiler in Reading Borough Council. It will also be offence to use ‘unauthorised fuels’ unless an ‘exempt’ appliance is used and the fuel specified for that exempt appliance must also be used.  Failure to comply may result in a fine of up to £300.

It also makes it illegal for anyone to sell by retail, unauthorised fuel within the area covered by the Order, they will be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine of up to £1000.

Practically for residents wanting to use an open fire, this will mean they will have to use a smokeless fuel as listed on the Defra website here: Smokeless Fuels.

Manufactured Solid Fuel (MSF) must now all be certified for sale. All MSF certified in this way will be identified with the ‘Ready to Burn’ logo. These fuels are then considered to be ‘smokeless fuels’ and are suitable for use in a SCA.

Residents with wood burning stoves must only use stoves on Defra’s ‘exempt appliance’ list and must only burn the 'authorised' or 'certified' fuel the appliance was authorised to use. 

Further information is available on the RBC website at:

View the Reading Borough Council Smoke Control Order 2023

A copy of the ‘Reading Borough Council Smoke Control Order 2023’ and accompanying map is available to view in the attached document below.

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