Air quality

Smoke from domestic fires and stoves

Using your wood burning stove or fire correctly can save you money, reduce the risk of chimney fires and helps reduce air pollution.

It is important to make sure that your fire or stove doesn't emit too much dark smoke which can interfere with your neighbours' enjoyment of their property. You must take appropriate steps to reduce smoke and strong smell which can be considered a statutory nuisance under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

Preventing smoke nuisance

Smoke is produced when fuels don't burn properly.

Make sure that your wood supply is dry so it can burn effectively and reduce the likelihood of smoke. You can check the moisture content of the wood using a moisture meter. Wood should be stored undercover and allowed to dry out to make sure it is well-seasoned before burning.

When fires and stoves are first lit, they can give off black smoke from the flue and a strong smell for a short period until the fuels are burning efficiently. This can’t be avoided and would not be considered a statutory nuisance.

Installation and maintenance of chimneys and appliances

Newly installed flues should comply with Building Regulations, but they don't necessarily require a building warrant. Even if your installation is compliant with building regulations, this doesn't mean that it is exempt from investigation under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

It is recommended that chimneys and appliances are installed and maintained by professionals. Chimneys should be swept on an annual basis or according to manufacturer’s instructions. You should request a written report on the works carried out by the chimney sweep that includes any recommendations and make sure these are actioned.

Black smoke during full operation of the installation shows that fuels are not burning completely causing pollution and smell that can impact nearby properties.

Burning fuels requires technical knowledge and you should seek advice from your installer, chimney sweep or online resources. View advice on using your fire correctly from the Burn Right website.

If you are concerned that your fire is not working properly, please contact a chimney sweep and have the appliance and chimney inspected.

Smoke control areas

Under the Clean Air Act 1993, local authorities have the power to identify and declare areas within their jurisdiction as a smoke control area. In these areas you can't emit smoke from a chimney unless you're burning an approved fuel or using exempt appliances.

View a list of approved fuels to be used on appliances in Scotland by the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). Please note household waste materials and plastics should not be burned on domestic fires.

View list of exempt appliances by DEFRA. Exempt appliances include ovens, wood burners and stoves, that have passed tests to confirm that they are capable of burning designated solid fuel without giving off smoke. Please note if these appliances are not operated in line with manufacturers instructions, they may produce smoke which can be considered a nuisance.

Aberdeenshire does not currently have any smoke control areas, however, we will investigate complaints relating to smoke from domestic fires that negatively impact neighbouring properties.

How to submit a complaint

We are required to investigate complaints about excessive smoke from domestic fires and stoves. This includes strong smell and dark smoke which is considered unreasonable.

Speak to your neighbour and advise them of your concerns over the smell and colour of the smoke coming from the chimney. This will help them identify the problem and take measures to prevent smoke. If there is no improvement, you may wish to submit a complaint to us for investigation.

To submit a complaint please email us at and include the following details:

  • Address of the property emitting excessive smoke and strong burning smell
  • Photographs of the smoke (where appropriate)
  • A detailed log of the date and time when it happened, the address of property affected and how it is impacting your enjoyment of your property
  • Your contact details


For any queries or more information please contact us.