Chimineas are legal to use in the UK even in smoke control areas. However, if you cause a smoke nuisance to neighbours fines and abatement notice can be issued.
It’s maybe one of the first things you typed in to search if you are thinking of purchasing a chiminea – are they actually legal?
The good news is as long as you use chimineas sensibly and considerately, they are completely legal to use in your garden or other outside areas.
This is because they come under the same laws as BBQs, outdoor fireplaces, and pizza ovens which including chimineas are considered ‘outdoor ovens, burners and barbecues’.
In smoke control areas the restrictions only apply to chimneys that are part of the house leaving you to party on chiminea style in your garden!
Outdoor ovens, burners and barbecues
You can use outdoor barbecues, chimineas, fireplaces or pizza ovens.
Any of these appliances that release smoke through a chimney of a building – for example a summerhouse – can only burn authorised fuel or must be exempt.– gov.uk
In other words, any freestanding device that is not attached to a building is absolutely fine.
legally Causing a Smoke Nuisance
The only reason you may get into difficulty with the law is if you use your chiminea in a way that causes a nuisance to your neighbours.
If you cause a nuisance to a neighbour there are laws that protect them – and rightly so. Let’s not forget that chimineas are wood burners and no matter how responsibly we use them, they do emit smoke and you can’t control that smoke once it’s released.
If a neighbour reports your chiminea use as a nuisance it will be passed to Environmental Health Officers to be assessed.
They will assess the situation based on the amount of smoke, the duration and the frequency of use. They also look at reasons for smoke production.
How smoke complaints are assessed
To work out whether it’s a statutory nuisance, smoke is usually assessed by environmental health officers from the council. They can look at:
– the amount
– how often it happens and for how long
– how reasonable the activity is (for exapmle, smoke from an everyday activity like cooking is unlikely to be a statutory nuisance)– gov.uk
If your chiminea use is found to be a nuisance to your neighbour(s) you will be issued with an abatement notice. For the environmental health officers to do this the smoke from your chiminea must be affecting your neighbours use of their premises and potentially harm their health.
If you are trying to minimise the amount of smoke your chim chucks out, check my article on how to stop a chiminea smoking.
How to Prevent Chiminea Smoke NUisance
Here are a few quick pointers to minimize the amount of smoke your chiminea produces:
- Make sure your chiminea is clean and dry before you start
- Only use a small amount of kindling – kindling is often made from softer wood and will produe more smoke
- Make sure to only use kiln dried or thoroughly seasoned (for at least months) wood
- Only burn hardwoods. Once the fire gets going you should have minimal smoke
- Don’t burn house or garden waste in your chiminea – this causes a lot of smoke
- Keep fires small – chimineas are designed to have small fires but obviously the smaller the fire, the less smoke
what is a Smoke Control Area?
Smoke control areas were introduced in 1993 in high population areas and they prevent people from burning all sorts of fuel in indoor fireplaces and so reduce air pollution.
As explained above, the laws in the clean air act only apply to chimneys that are attached to a building. Outdoor fires in BBQs and chimineas do not fall under the clean air act.
Dealing with Neighbours When you Have a Chiminea
Hopefully, it won’t come to this and you can resolve the problem sensibly. The best way to deal with neighbours is to talk to them.
It may sound obvious or even impossible if you live next to difficult people. However, there’s usually an amicable way to agree on things.
Talk to them about your chiminea, invite them round to share the warmth and even tasty delights if you are cooking too. Include them. Apologise in advance before you use your chiminea and say to them to please let you know if it bothers them. This goes a long way to build relations and they are far more likely to overlook minor annoyance.
Be sensitive to their activities. Don’t set a fire if they have washing out – wait a few hours and if it’s still out, talk to them. Be considerate if they have kids in the garden – the last thing anyone wants is kids in a smokey environment.
Here are some more things you can do to ensure you don’t annoy the neighbours when using your chiminea.
- Before you purchase a chiminea, think of which type will work best for you – it may be that one with a long chim is the best solution as it will propel the smoke upwards.
- Before placing your chiminea in the garden, consider where the wind usually blows – how can you use that to best make sure that smoke will not annoy your neighbours?
- Make sure to always use thoroughly seasoned (properly dried) wood. This will ensure much less smoke.
- Look into some ‘smokeless’ fuels – over at Patiomate they have a full article on this
- Think of which side of the garden will impact your neighbours if your chiminea is smokey
If things result in your chiminea use becoming a problem, just stop. There is nothing worse than living next door to people you are fighting with. It may be that your property is simply not suitable to having a chiminea in your garden.
It is one of the disadvantages of urban living – you have to get on with the folk around you to live a peaceful life.
Chimineas are legal but must be used responsibly with consideration to your neighbours. If you and your chiminea become a nuisance to your neighbours with smoke blowing into their garden or property too often, your neighbours are protected by law and you could be issued an abatement notice if the Council decides your chiminea use is a nuisance.