Air quality

An overview of the actions that we are taking to tackle air pollution and improve air quality.

Open fires and smoke

We have in place a series of measures around open fires and smoke to minimise your exposure to air pollution. However, we all need to play our part – while some types of burning may be legal, they still cause pollution and put heavy particles into the air which damage our health. Please consider the impact you may have on air quality before purchasing a stove or having a bonfire.

We are a smoke control area

As designated by the Clean Air Act 1993, the whole of Lambeth is a smoke control area. It is illegal to emit smoke from chimneys in a smoke control area, unless you are using exempt appliances or burning an authorised fuel. You could face a fine of up to £1,000 if you break the law. For more information, read the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs' (DEFRA) guide.

Smoke control areas: do you know the rules? (PDF, 231KB)

Stoves and open fires


Wood-burning and multi-fuel stoves, which have low smoke emissions when used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and the recommended fuel, are included in DEFRA's exempted stoves.

In these appliances, you can only use wood that is dry and ready to burn. Non-exempted appliances can only burn approved solid fuels. Do not burn treated waste wood, such as pallets and old furniture, as these can release toxic substances.

Open fires

There are no laws against bonfires but to minimise nuisance, follow the rules of bonfires. Be considerate towards your neighbours when lighting bonfires and barbecues and make sure not to cause a smoke nuisance. If a neighbour’s bonfire is causing a nuisance, you can report it via our anti-social behaviour form.

You can't dispose of household waste or garden waste by burning it, as this will cause pollution and harm people’s health. Instead, you can recycle it or compost it.

Read the following DEFRA guides for more information.

Open fires and wood-burning stoves (PDF, 269KB)

How to get the most from your stove or open fire (PDF, 337KB)

Tips to reduce the harmful effects of smoke

  • consider burning less or not burning at all
  • think about why you are lighting your fire - if your home is warm enough, you probably don’t need one
  • maintain stoves and sweep chimneys, to ensure they work properly and generate enough heat
  • make sure to have a carbon monoxide monitor at home, to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning