It’s cheap, traditional and gives a good flame picture. But burning housecoal ANYWHERE in the Manchester City Council area could land you with a fine of up to £1,000.
The reason is because the whole of Manchester – including Chorlton, Withington, Didsbury, Northenden – is a designated Smoke Control Area.
The zone was brought in back in 1985 to help improve air quality across the city area. This means that regardless of whether you have an open fire or multi fuel stove, you cannot burn traditional housecoal.
And the only way you can legally burn wood on any appliance in this area is if it is a DEFRA Exempt Appliance. These are usually more modern stoves which are tested for emissions and cannot be ‘slumbered’.
The only fuel which can legally be burnt on any multi fuel appliance or open fire in this area is Approved Smokeless Fuel. More details on this can be found at https://www.gov.uk/smoke-control-area-rules
The overall picture on how the law is applied across Manchester is hazy (forgive the pun!) Manchester City Council said they couldn’t tell me how many complaints they’d investigated under the Clean Air legislation as complaints aren’t categorised in that way, and to search through every record would take days. However, they did confirm that since 2009, they hadn’t sought to prosecute a single person under the Act.
Nevertheless, why run the risk of being the first person in a decade to be fined? My advice is to always use the right fuels for your fireplace and, if in doubt, check with a professional!
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