Open Fires and Smoke

We are a smoke control area and we have measures in place around open fires and smoke.

close up image of coal embers burning in open fire
Project status: In delivery Neighbourhood: Lambeth wide

Smoke from burning causes air pollution which harms the health of our citizens. 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: whilst 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

The whole of Lambeth is a smoke control area, as designated by the Clean Air Act 1993. It is illegal to emit smoke from chimneys in a smoke control area, unless you are burning an authorised fuel, or using exempt appliances. You could face a fine of up to £1000 if you break the law. For more information, read Defra’s Smoke Control Area Guide.


Defra exempted stoves include wood-burning and multi-fuel stoves, which have low smoke emissions when used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and the recommended fuel. Wood, dry and ready to burn, can only be burned in these appliances, whereas non-exempted appliances can only burn approved solid fuels. Do not burn treated waste wood (e.g. pallets, old furniture etc.), as these can release toxic substances.

Open fires

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

You cannot 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. Find out how to dispose of garden waste and how to recycle in Lambeth.

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


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For more information