Dark Smoke

Subject to some exemptions, the emission of dark smoke from industrial or trade premises is prohibited under Part 1 of the Clean Air Act 1993.

It is also an offence to emit dark smoke from the chimney of any building (including houses) on any one day except for example when lighting up, or the emissions could not have been reasonably foreseen.

The term dark smoke refers to a shade on the British Standard BS 2742C Ringelmann Chart and means smoke which, if compared with the chart, would appear to be as dark as, or darker than, shade 2. Black smoke means smoke which would be as dark as, or darker than, shade 4 on the chart.

  • Dark smoke generally comes from a fire that is burning things such as wet wood or plastics
  • Black smoke typically comes from fires burning items such as rubber tyres or cables

Legislation and Guidance

Smoke emitted from premises (other than domestic bonfires) is covered by the Clean Air Act of 1993. Although there are no smoke control areas in East Herts, you still have to abide by certain regulations. The main offences that the council investigates are:

Section 1 - Prohibition of dark smoke etc. from chimneys. This states that it is an offence to emit dark smoke from the chimney of any building (including house) on any day unless specified in the Dark Smoke (Permitted Periods) Regulations of 1958. We will write to you if you commit an offence under this legislation and then, if it occurs again, will consider prosecution

Section 2 - Prohibition of dark smoke from industrial or trade premises (other than from chimneys). This prohibits the occupier of such premises from emitting dark smoke on any day, however, the Clean Air Act does not apply to processes prescribed for control under the prescribed for control under The Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2007.

Commercial operations causing black smoke to be released may be subject to considerable fines. If you see dark smoke being emitted from such premises please use our Report Environmental Pollution form.

Industrial or trade premises are defined as premises used for any industrial or trade purpose, but also includes materials burnt in connection with any trade or industrial process. This means if you burn waste at home originating from your work, then this would be covered by the legislation.

What you should do?

If you witness the burning of material giving rise to dark or black smoke from industrial or trade premises or from the chimney of a domestic premises (as detailed above), you should contact us immediately. If possible, an Officer will visit the site to witness the offence and take the appropriate action.

If you are suffering a nuisance from smoke from a domestic property or non-dark smoke from an industrial or trade premises, you can use the Report Environmental Pollution form and we will try to assist, and if appropriate, take action for Statutory Nuisance.