What your business must do to prevent air pollution – local emissions controls, Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs), eliminating dark smoke, permits for boilers
You need a permit for most generators, furnaces and boilers.
Get a permit
You’ll need a Part A(1) environmental permit if your appliances:
- have an aggregated rated thermal input of 50 megawatts (mw) or more
- burn waste oil, recovered oil or any fuel made from waste, with a rated thermal input of 3 to 50 mw
Get a Part A(1) permit from:
- Environment Agency - England
- Natural Resources Wales (NRW)
- Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA)
You’ll need or a Part B environmental permit if your appliances:
- have a rated thermal input of 20 to 50 mw
- burn waste excluded from the Waste Incineration Directive (WID) with a rated thermal input of 0.4 to 3 mw
Get a Part B permit from your local council.
Your local council must approve:
- the use of a new non-domestic furnace in a building, fixed boiler or industrial plant
- changes to an existing furnace
Contact your local council about grit and dust arrestment if you don’t have an environmental permit and your furnace is going to be used to burn:
- pulverised fuel
- any other solid matter at a rate of 45.4 kilograms (kg) or more an hour
- liquid or gaseous matter at a rate equivalent to 366.4 kilowatts (kw) or more an hour
Chimney height requirements
Your chimney must be high enough to prevent smoke, grit, dust, gases and fume emissions from damaging health or causing a nuisance. Your local council can refuse your application if your chimney isn’t high enough.
You must apply for chimney height approval if:
- you don’t have an environmental permit
- your boiler’s fuel consumption exceeds 45.4 kg of solid fuel an hour
- your boiler’s fuel consumption exceeds 366.4 kw of liquid or gas fuel an hour
If your approval application is refused your local council will tell you the minimum chimney height you need.
A chimney may be exempt if it is used as part of:
- a temporary replacement, for example if the boiler or furnace is being repaired
- a temporary source of heat or power for building works
- an auxiliary plant to bring the main plant up to operating temperatures
- a mobile source of heat or power for agricultural purposes
If the use of your chimney changes you must re-apply for approval.
Boiler emission requirements
You must fit all boilers with grit and dust arrestment equipment. You can apply to your local council for an exemption if your boiler won’t create emissions that could damage health or cause a nuisance.
The darker the smoke, the more polluting it tends to be. Smoke darker than a specified shade of grey is officially classified as ‘dark smoke’.
The Ringelmann chart is used to define dark smoke. The chart has 5 shades of grey with 0 being clear and 5 being black. Smoke is considered ‘dark’ if it is shade 2 or darker.
Chimney and boiler restrictions
You mustn’t release dark smoke from your premises, including from:
- chimneys serving furnaces
- fixed boilers or industrial plants, whether they’re attached to buildings or not
There are some exemptions if emissions won’t damage health or cause a nuisance.
Your local council can introduce extra controls on emissions if there are air quality problems in your area.
Air Quality Management Areas
If air quality falls below required standards, your council will declare an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) and plan for improvements.
Check if your business is in an AQMA and if you’re affected by:
- road charging
- parking restrictions
- increased restrictions on waiting and loading times
- taxes to encourage moving goods by rail
- the review of planning applications by a pollution control team
Smoke Control Areas
Your council can also declare a Smoke Control Area. This means you can only use authorised fuels, or exempted furnaces and boilers. Chimney smoke is not allowed, with only a few exceptions.
You could be fined up to Â£1,000 for each offence.
If you’re a contractor working at different locations you should always check if you’re in a Smoke Control Area.