Open fires and wood-burning stoves

Open fires and wood-burning stoves have risen in popularity over recent years. This means we now see more smoke from chimneys which has a negative effect on air quality. This can cause breathing problems such as asthma attacks and contribute to other health conditions.

Woking borough is not a smoke-control area, so you are able to use the heating fuel and equipment of your choice.

To help reduce pollution and any negative health affects associated with smoke, we recommend that you use cleaner fuels and in cleaner appliances which have been installed by a competent person. 

Recommend fuels and safety advice

If you need to burn solid fuels to heat your home, choosing what you burn and how you burn it can reduce pollution and health impacts. 

We recommend taking the following steps:

  • Consider burning less.
  • Buy 'ready to burn' fuel.
  • Season freshly chopped wood before burning.
  • If you use house coal, use approved smokeless fuels instead, such as anthracite or smokeless coals.
  • Do not burn treated waste wood, such as old furniture, or household rubbish.
  • Regularly maintain and service your stove – we recommend annually.
  • Get your chimney swept regularly – we recommend up to twice a year.
  • Preferably buy new equipment that is suitable for use in a smoke-control area – these are called ‘exempt appliances’. By doing so, this helps to minimise the amount of air pollution produced which has health benefits both for you and also all residents within the borough.

Read the Defra guide and advice on open fires and wood burning

Watch the Surrey Air Alliance video for tips

Advice for fuel manufactures and suppliers

The sale of domestic solid fuel in all of England is regulated under The Air Quality (Domestic Solid Fuels Standards) (England) Regulations 2020

Traditional house coals, manufactured solid fuels (MSF) and wood sold for domestic use must meet the new requirements. This new legislation dictates that:

  • Wood sold in quantities smaller than two meters cubed must be sold ‘ready to burn’ with below 20% moisture.
  • Wood sold in quantities larger than two meters cubed may be sold above 20% moisture with a specific note detailing the process of seasoning the wood to 20% moisture.
  • Manufactured solid fuels must fit the set requirements to be considered ‘ready to burn’, these relate to sulphur content and smoke emissions.
  • Bituminous coal cannot be supplied unless in special circumstances (loose coal from approved coal merchants will be allowed for the first two years).