Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland
The most harmful environmental impacts from furnaces are from emissions of particulates (dust) and fumes. An electric or gas furnace will generate less particulate emissions than other types of furnace.
Check with your environmental regulator or local council to see if you need a permit for your furnace. You may need a pollution prevention and control (PPC) permit.
If you have a permit, you must comply with its conditions. Your permit may contain conditions relating to your levels of noise, vibration, odour and dust and smoke emissions.
You must make sure that your business does not cause a nuisance to your neighbours or the local community. Nuisances include smoke, dust, odour, noise and vibration. Anyone affected by a nuisance can take legal action against you or your business, or complain to your local council.
If your business causes a nuisance, or could cause or repeat a nuisance, you can be issued with an abatement notice. Your local council's environmental health department or the courts can issue abatement notices. You can be fined if you do not comply with an abatement notice.
An abatement notice can:
For further information see our guidance on Noise, odour and other nuisances.
Your local council must approve your plans before you use any new furnace, or make changes to an existing furnace.
If you have local council consent for your installation, you still cannot emit dark smoke. All new furnace installations must be able to run continuously without emitting smoke. In Scotland furnaces must be fitted with grit and dust arrestment plant. You can apply for an exemption from this requirement, but only if your installation will not cause emissions that could damage health or cause a nuisance.
Your local council regulates chimney height if your furnace fuel consumption exceeds 45.4kg of solid fuel or 366.4kW of liquid or gas fuel per hour. Your chimney must be high enough to prevent smoke, grit, dust, gas and fume emissions from damaging health or causing a nuisance.
You must not use gas oil with a sulphur content exceeding 0.1% by mass.
You must not use heavy fuel oil with a sulphur content exceeding 1% by mass. This is particularly relevant if you have stocks of stand-by fuel that remain unchanged for considerable periods of time. If you operate pre-1987 combustion plant you can apply for a 'sulphur content of liquid fuels' permit from SEPA in Scotland or from the Industrial and Radiochemical Inspectorate in Northern Ireland.
If you prepare material by incineration, or you use waste oil or recovered fuel oil to fire your furnace, check if the Waste Incineration Directive will affect your operations.
Some level-detection and smoke detection devices on furnaces use radioactive sources. If your furnace uses a radioactive source, you must have a certificate of registration or authorisation from your environmental regulator.
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