People in Bristol using log burners could face fines of £300

Councils in England have been given new legal powers to issue penalties in a bid to reduce air pollution.

People using log burners to heat their homes in Bristol could soon face fines of up to £300 in a bid to reduce air pollution.

Councils in England have been given new legal powers to issue penalties of between £175 and £300 to households who emit more than three grams of smoke per hour from chimneys. 

Bristol City Council is expected to approve the new enforcement policy during a public meeting on Tuesday 5 September.

Burning wood releases fine particulate matter which can cause serious health problems such as asthma, heart disease, strokes and lung cancer.

Exposure to this is much higher from domestic wood burning because people live much closer to home chimneys. This means there is less chance for the pollution to disperse before people are exposed to it.

How will the process work?

When smoke is first spotted coming from a chimney, Bristol City Council will send an improvement notice setting out the new restrictions and how wood can be burned legally.

If smoke is spotted again, the council will send out a second warning with details of potential fines, before issuing a final notice and fine. 

Homes could be fined £300 Credit: PA

A cabinet report said: “Bristol City Council recognises the fundamental right of every resident to breathe clean air. The emissions from a small number of solid fuel appliances, especially if they are operated in a manner that does not comply with regulations, could raise short term pollution levels enough to directly impact the health of vulnerable individuals.

“Burning wood or coal pollutes the air inside and outside homes. The toxic particulate matter produced by burning is harmful to residents and visitors to the city. The Environment Act 2021 enables the local authority to issue a financial penalty of between £175 to £300 if smoke is emitted.”

The new fines form one part of the council’s wider strategy to improve air quality in Bristol, which also includes the Clean Air Zone launched in November last year. 

Credit: Alex Seabrook, Local Democracy Reporting Service