Report a smoke problem

You should be able to enjoy your home and garden without being affected by smoke from a neighbour or a nearby business. 

Most neighbours will be considerate if you explain that smoke is causing a problem first. But if it keeps happening, you can report it to us. Read more about resolving disputes with neighbours and when to involve us on the government website.

You should always report dark smoke from a business, because we'll need to investigate and take action to find out if they're burning waste illegally.

We use the guidance in the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the Clean Air Act 1993, together with your report to decide if we can investigate.

You can report a smoke problem to us on our online form.

We don't accept anonymous reports. You'll need to tell us your name, address and an email address in case we want to contact you. 

Please read the information below about what people can and can't burn, and what happens when you report smoke to us, before you fill in the form.

Smoke from homes

We've designated the whole of Barnsley as a smoke control area to improve our air quality and reduce pollution from burning coal, oil or wood as fuel.

This means that everyone with a heating appliance must make sure that they:

  • only burn an authorised smokeless fuel
  • or; have an exempt appliance, capable of burning fuel without emitting smoke (and only operate it in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions)

It's an offence to not comply with these requirements and could lead to a fine of up to £1000.

If somebody is burning fuel and the smoke is affecting your home, you can report it to us.

Smoke from gardens

Being in a smoke control area doesn't mean that people can't have a garden bonfire or a barbecue, but the smoke shouldn't be causing a nuisance to neighbours. If your home or garden is affected by smoke from your neighbour's property you can report it to us. 

If you're having a bonfire or barbecue please tell your neighbours; and try to locate it in a place that will avoid any smoke blowing onto their property.

There are alternatives to burning rubbish or garden waste, please consider what you can compost or recycle first. If you are having a garden fire you should avoid:

  • burning wet waste, it produces more smoke
  • having a fire on still or damp days when smoke won't disperse very well
  • burning rubber, foam, plastic or anything containing paint
  • burning anything outside when the air pollution level is high

Wood burning stoves

Many people think that wood burning stoves are more environmentally friendly than gas appliances, but they can emit more pollution into the air.

If you have a wood burning stove you must make sure it's an exempt appliance because Barnsley is a designated smoke control area. You should also only burn approved fuel. If you don't comply with the legislation, you could be fined up to £1000.

Use wood to heat your home? 

The government and the Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps have produced leaflets enabling you to best use your wood burning stove – saving you fuel and money, reducing air pollution and complying with the law.

Find out about government advice.

You can download a copy of the Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps leaflet.

Dark smoke

It's an offence under the Clean Air Act for industrial or trade premises to emit dark smoke from burning waste. Dark smoke is usually produced from burning materials like plastic or rubber, cables and some furniture. 

You can report any dark smoke from a business on our online form. 

We'll always investigate reports of dark smoke and can take court action, leading to a criminal conviction and a fine of up to £20,000 for the business.

How to report smoke to us

You can use our online form to report all smoke problems to us, unless it's an emergency.

We can't investigate anonymous reports, so you'll need to tell us your name and address. We'll also need to know:

  • where the smoke is coming from
  • how often it happens
  • what affect it has on you
  • any action you've taken to deal with it

It would be helpful if you could upload some evidence with your form, either a document, photo or video. We have a smoke diary that you can download and fill in to keep a record of the details of the smoke. 

By law, we can only deal with smoke that is defined as being a 'statutory nuisance' in the Environmental Protection Act 1990. For smoke to be classed as a statutory nuisance it must be:

  • excessive
  • unreasonable
  • considerably affecting you and your enjoyment of your home or garden 

We won't investigate reports of smoke from garden fires or barbecues unless it's excessive, and happening frequently.

We always investigate reports of dark smoke, or other smoke from a business, regardless of how many times it's happened.

What happens when you report smoke to us

When we receive your form, we'll use the information you've told us to decide if we can look into the matter. We may also ask you to fill in a smoke diary, or send us some other evidence, if you haven't already uploaded it with the form. 

If we decide to investigate the smoke we'll usually write to the person or business and ask them to resolve the problem, before any further action is taken. We won't give them your name or contact details. 

We may also visit the area at the time you've told us the smoke occurs.

In most cases we'll need to witness the smoke, before we can take any formal action.

We can then either serve an abatement notice on the person or business emitting the smoke, or take legal action.

If you've reported smoke from a home or garden, we may ask you to provide a witness statement and attend court. We'll tell you what's involved in this and support you through the process.

We won't ask you for a witness statement or to attend court, if you've reported smoke from a business.