On this page

Smoke control area

The whole of Merton is legally defined as a ‘smoke control area’. This means: 

For example, you can: 

  • burn an unauthorised fuel, such as wood, in an exempt wood burner 
  • burn an authorised dry, smokeless fuel on an open fire 

We can fine you up to £1,000 if you burn unauthorised fuel without using an exempt appliance. 

Using firewood and solid fuels

Fires are not a cost-effective way to heat your home. You can get advice on energy efficiency and ways to save money on heating and insulation, and from organisations such as the Energy Saving Trust.

Fires are bad for air quality inside and outside your home, so can damage your health - even if you're using exempt appliances and authorised fuels. We discourage the burning of wood and coal unless you have no alternative source of heating.

If you buy kindling, firewood or solid fuels for domestic use, look for the Ready to Burn logo. This means it will burn more cleanly and efficiently.

Ready to Burn

When storing your fuel, it’s important to keep it dry because burning damp fuel may produce smoke. 

Visit Burnright for advice on getting the most from your fire and fuel. 

London Wood Burning Project

We are a  member of London Wood Burning Project whose aim is to protect the health of people living, working, and learning in London by raising awareness, and improving understanding of the environmental and human health impacts from domestic wood and other solid fuel burning.  For further information visit London Wood Burning Project.

Clean Air Night

Merton supported the first ever Clean Air Night on Wednesday 24 January 2024. For more information about the Clean Air Night campaign please view this short film, Clean Air Night (cleanairhub.org.uk) shedding light on the three truths about the harms of burning.

  • its impact on our health
  • its impact on our wallet, and
  • its impact on the planet.

Buying solid fuel stoves and wood burners

Since January 2022, all new wood-burning and multi-fuel stoves must adhere to emissions and efficiency regulations known as Ecodesign. When buying wood-burning or multi-fuel stoves, look for one of these logos:

HETAS Ecodesign Compliant

The HETAS Ecodesign Compliant logo means the appliance meets the new requirements.


A clearSkies level of 3 or more means the appliance meets the Ecodesign standards and is Defra exempt, so can be used in a smoke control area. We encourage you to choose appliances with a rating of 4 or 5, as these have lower emissions. 

Older appliances approved before 2010 may be considerably less efficient and more polluting than newer models.

Health impacts

Burning wood and coal at home emits dangerous pollution known as fine particulate matter (often referred to as PM2.5). This is a known carcinogen and can cause asthma, heart disease and other serious illnesses affecting our lungs, hearts and brains. It can also trigger the symptoms of existing health conditions. Current evidence suggests there is no safe level of PM2.5, and even short-term exposure increases the risk of early deaths from respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.

In Merton, wood burning is the second largest source of PM2.5 after road transport, which is why controlling domestic burning is such an important issue.

The hourly PM2.5 emissions (in grams per hour (g/h)) from 1 eco-certified wood burning stove (3.1 g/h) is equal to 18 newer diesel passenger cars (each rated at 0.17 g/h) or 6 modern heavy goods vehicles (each rated at 0.5 g/h).

Diagram illustrating the information above

Data from "Potential Air Quality Impacts from Biomass Combustion", Air Quality Expert Group (UK), 2017.


Smoke control legislation does not apply to domestic bonfires. We discourage people from having bonfires as they create unnecessary air pollution and cause serious nuisance to neighbouring properties.

See Bonfires and Smoke Nuisance for more information.

Report smoke

To report chimney smoke please email the Pollution Team at pollution@merton.gov.uk. Your report must include the address where the chimney is located to enable investigation. 

If smoke from a bonfire, chimney or other source is causing a nuisance you can report bonfire or smoke nuisance

Selling fuel and burners

It’s illegal to sell unauthorised fuel in a smoke control area, unless it’s for an exempt appliance. You could be fined up to £1,000 if break this law. 

Find out more

Smoke Control Areas - do you know the rules? A practical guide (defra.gov.uk)