Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland
A boiler or furnace burning fuel normally releases smoke through a chimney. Smoke darker than a specified shade of grey is officially classified as 'dark smoke'. You must not cause or allow emissions of dark smoke from your chimney. See the page in this guideline dealing with dark smoke restrictions.
Authorisations or permits for boilers and furnaces: You must make sure that you comply with any emission limits required by permits or authorisations. See the page in this guideline that covers boilers and furnaces - environmental authorisations or permits.
Your chimney must be high enough to prevent smoke, grit, dust, gases and fume emissions from damaging health or causing a nuisance. Your local council can refuse approval for a chimney that is not a sufficient height.
You must obtain approval from your local council for a chimney by satisfying them that your chimney will be tall enough to prevent its emissions becoming a nuisance.
In Scotland you must apply for chimney height approval from your local council, if:
In Northern Ireland and Scotland, your application must contain details of:
Your local council may apply certain conditions to their approval such as the rate and quality of emissions from your chimney.
A chimney may be exempt if it is used as part of:
If your use of the chimney changes you must re-apply for approval for the new emissions.
In most cases a chimney or stack should have no restriction on the top, as this could reduce the dispersion of emissions. This may be a requirement, part of the local council conditions of operation for the chimney or stack.
You are committing an offence if you use the chimney without approval from your local council.
You must fit all boilers with grit and dust arrestment equipment. You can apply to your local council for an exemption, but this will only be granted if the boiler will not create emissions that could damage health or cause a nuisance. For further information you should contact your local council.
Find your local council
Smoke, grit and dust emission limits
Your local council can apply limits on emissions of smoke, grit and dust you produce. If you exceed these limits you may be committing an offence and could be prosecuted. Your local council is likely to set limits for sites with a history of complaints, or sites that use fuel or procedures they were not designed to use.
You should use the best practical means to minimise emissions, for example:
See the page in this guideline that covers checking and controlling air pollution.
Check your emissions regularly so you can detect problems early. Make a record of these measurements.
Plan and carry out regular maintenance, to ensure that your furnace and boiler meet air emission standards and operate efficiently.
Use cleaner fuels, such as gas, to limit the environmental impact of your furnace and boiler.
Boilers and furnaces: Chimney heights
Stay informed: Coronavirus (COVID-19), In this challenging time, NetRegs’ running organisations the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) have created information websites to keep you informed on the current situation....
NetRegs: Supporting businesses across Scotland and Northern Ireland, Businesses in Scotland and Northern Ireland have a huge role to play in helping to deliver world-leading climate change action, not only by ensuring environmental compliance, which is non-negotiable, but going beyond compliance to achieve a low carbon and circular economy.
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