Dark Smoke and Clean Air Act

Subject to some exemptions, the emission of dark smoke from industrial or trade premises is prohibited under Part 1 of the Clean Air Act 1993. This prohibition is absolute and no permitted periods are allowed.

The term dark smoke refers to a shade on the British Standard BS 2742C Ringelmann Chart and means smoke which, if compared with the chart, would appear to be as dark as, or darker than, shade 2. Black smoke means smoke which would be as dark as, or darker than, shade 4 on the chart.

Industrial or trade premises are defined as premises used for any industrial or trade purpose, or premises not so used on which matter is burnt in connection with any trade or industrial process. This means if you burn waste at home originating from your work, then this is covered by this legislation.

Legislation & Guidance

The Clean Air Act 1993 also regulates emissions of dark and black smoke from chimneys serving furnaces of fixed boilers or industrial plant. However, the Clean Air Act does not apply to processes prescribed for control under the Pollution Prevention and Control (England and Wales) Regulations 2000.

Under Part II of the Clean Air Act 1993, furnaces or a fixed boiler in a building used for commercial activities, can not be installed without prior notification to the local authority. The furnace must be capable of operating continuously without emitting smoke using the fuel for which it is designed.

The Act requires certain types of furnaces, including those burning pulverised fuel, to be fitted with grit and dust arrestment plant approved by the local authority. The height of the chimney serving certain appliances also has to be approved by the local authority.

What you should do?

If you witness the burning of material giving rise to dark or black smoke from industrial or trade premises (the legislation does not apply to domestic premises), you should contact us immediately. If possible, an Officer will visit the site to witness the offence and take the appropriate action.

If you are suffering a nuisance from smoke from a domestic property or non-dark smoke from an industrial or trade premises, the Environmental Protection Team will be able to assist, and if appropriate, take action for Statutory Nuisance.