Approximately half of Wigan Council area’s land mass has been designated as a Smoke Control Area.
That means that, in those areas, you risk a fine of up to £1,000 if you burn wood or household coal on an open for or a non-Defra exempt stove.
These areas are pretty much clustered together. In the eastern part, these include whole parts of Leigh, Hindley, Tyldesley, Atherton. In the northern part, Shevington, Standish, Swinley, Orrell, Pemberton and Crooke Village are designated areas.
In the south, Worsley Mesnes, Winstanley and Bryn are ‘smokeless’.
However, some areas are split. For instance in Ashton, part of the town is part of the smokeless zone, but part of it isn’t. And for some reason, there’s a section of Beech Hill which doesn’t have any restrictions.
This all makes Wigan quite hit and miss when it comes to knowing which areas are designated control areas and which aren’t.
Wigan Council tell me that since 2009, they have received more than 3,000 air-related complaints. However, not one person has been prosecuted for breaching the Clean Air Act in that time.
I must admit I was surprised it was such a high number. However, you have to remember that Wigan was quite an early convert to gas, so the smell of smoke hasn’t been prevalent in our air for a long time. So if someone starts burning solid fuel on your street, it can be quite noticeable, particularly if they aren’t using their appliance properly
As a sweep, I know that most smoke issues from stoves comes from simply user error. That’s why I co-founded the Burnright campaign. It’s a national campaign to help people get the best out of their stoves and, in the process, help reduce pollution. I give bespoke advice to my customers so, bit by bit, the message is getting across. I’ve been down to Westminster to visit Government officials from DEFRA and they are fully supportive of the campaign.
To check whether you live in a smoke control zone in Wigan, visit https://www.wigan.gov.uk/Resident/Environmental-Problems/Smoke/Smoke-control-areas.aspx
Regardless of what area you live in, there are certain things you should never burn. Here’s a video explaining it…
Mr Soot Chimney Sweep is a co-founder of Burnright, a DEFRA-backed campaign which aims to educate solid fuel users on how to get the best out of their appliance while doing their bit for the environment. He’s also a HETAS Approved Sweep, and member of the Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps, offering a professional and friendly chimney sweep and stove service. Book Mr Soot online or call 0800 0541154.