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Air Pollution Guidance

Clean Air Act 1993

The Clean Air Act was introduced in 1993 to protect both the environment and the quality of the air we breathe. It provides a wide range of controls such as those which deal with smoke emissions and the height of chimneys.

Dark Smoke

It is an offence to cause or permit the emission of dark smoke from a chimney or flue at an industrial or trade premises. This also applies to burning materials on a site that you own or a site where you are working such as a building or demolition site or land used for commercial agriculture or horticulture. If you are considering burning material (including site clearance, demolition or construction) you must not produce dark or black smoke.

If you are planning to burn controlled waste you should consult with the Local Authority and the Environment Agency Wales first.

It is not necessary for the Council to have witnessed the emissions of dark smoke to take action against you: evidence of the burning of materials that potentially give rise to dark smoke is sufficient. This way the law aims to stop people creating dark smoke at night and using the lack of visual evidence as a defence!

Cable Burning

Under Section 33 of the Clean Air Act 1993 it is an offence to burn insulation from cable in the attempt of recovering the metal unless the activity is permitted under the Pollution Prevention and Control Act 1999

Smoke Control Areas

These are intended to control pollution in areas where the predominant fuel used for domestic heating is coal. There are currently no smoke control areas in Merthyr Tydfil.

Chimney Heights

The control of chimney heights enables the Council to take into account a number of relevant factors in determining the height of a chimney.

Under section 14 of the Act, unless the height of the chimney has been approved by the local authority and any conditions attached to approval adhered to, it is an offence to cause or knowingly permit a boiler/furnace to be used to:

  • burn pulverised fuel
  • burn at a rate of 45.4 kg or more an hour any other solid matter or
  • burn at a rate equivalent to 366.4 kW or more any liquid or gaseous matter

The Council must determine the correct height of the chimney to avoid pollution at ground level becoming a health issue or causing a nuisance. Anyone looking to install such a boiler or furnace must first seek approval from the Council. An application form can be obtained from the Public Health Department by one of the methods listed below. An application for chimney height approval must contain adequate information to enable the necessary calculations to be carried out.

Under the Act, the Council must consider an application for the approval of a chimney height for a furnace or boiler and give a written decision within 28 days. The appliance may require Building Regulations approval and/or planning permission so you may also need to consult with Building Control and Development department.

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