Nuisance smoke and smells


The whole of Tamworth is designated as a Smoke Control Area to improve air quality. This means it is an offence to cause the emission of smoke or burn any unauthorised fuel from either domestic or commercial properties.

It is unlawful to emit dark smoke for a prolonged period of time from a property in a Smoke Control Area.

As a result of changes to the Clean Air Act 1993, as amended by the Environment Act 2021, council officers can issue a penalty of between £175 and £300 where they witness the emission of a ‘significant quantity of smoke from a chimney’, regardless of the appliance being used or the type of fuel burned.

Only authorised fuels can be burned in a Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) approved stove. If the stove is not on the Defra exempt appliances list, it must only be used with smokeless fuel.

List of Authorised fuels

Exempt appliances

Stoves and log burners

Please read our Guide to Heating your Home for more information about authorised fuels and the use of wood burners and stoves in the home.

Bonfires and barbecues

There are no laws against having a bonfire or barbecue in a Smoke Control Area, but there are laws for the nuisance they can cause.

We strongly discourage the use of bonfires for disposing of any kinds of waste as it can produce toxic fumes.

Whether smoke is deemed to be causing a statutory nuisance can depend on factors such as the size of the fire, the materials being burnt, the weather and the smell. 

If the statutory nuisance can be proven ‘beyond reasonable doubt’, we might be able to issue an Abatement Notice. If such a notice is breached, the person responsible could face prosecution in a Magistrates’ Court, risking a fine of up to £5,000.

If you must have a bonfire in the garden, please follow these guidelines:

  • Only burn dry garden material to limit smoke
  • Never burn household rubbish, furniture, painted wood, tyres or plastics 
  • Never add a fuel such as diesel, oil or petrol 
  • Check neighbours have windows closed and do not have any washing out to dry
  • Never have bonfires on damp days or when there is little or no wind as smoke will linger
  • Be considerate – don’t have bonfires when people will want to enjoy their gardens 
  • Don’t allow smoke to blow over a road - this is an offence under the Highways Act 1980
  • If your neighbours complain, safely put out the fire
  • Never leave a fire unattended

Occasional bonfires or barbecues are unlikely to be considered a statutory nuisance, but if you are regularly unreasonably affected, try speaking to your neighbour in the first instance if possible.

If the problems continue and you feel a statutory nuisance is being caused, keep a diary of times and report it to us online.



There is no set level at which an odour becomes a nuisance.

Environmental health staff use their experience and judgement to determine whether an odour amounts to a statutory nuisance based on a range of factors including type, severity, duration, frequency and time of day.

If it is deemed to be a nuisance, the council can serve a legal notice on the person responsible, requiring them to stop.

We can only deal with complaints about the following smells:

  • Fumes from boilers
  • Smoke from bonfires or chimneys
  • Fumes or gases from commercial premises
  • Accumulations of waste
  • Odour arising from the manner in which animals are kept
  • Filthy premises and odour from industrial, trade or business premises

We can’t take action against odour complaints relating to domestic premises, unless it is associated with an accumulation of waste in or at the residential property.

To make a complaint about smoke or smells, please report it online here.