Sandwell Council is deciding whether the whole of the borough should become a designated Smoke Control Area (SCA) to help in the battle against poor air quality. Some parts of Sandwell are already within a SCA following 50 separate designations that were made before 2000.
In a Smoke Control Area residents and businesses cannot emit smoke from a chimney unless burning authorised fuels, using Defra exempt appliances or they have permission under Environmental Permitting Legislation. Fines can be issued to those who break the rules.
Harmful air pollutants, including fine particulate matter (PM2.5) are emitted from burning unauthorised fuels in fireplaces or in appliances that do not have a Defra exemption or an Environmental Permit.
Air pollution particularly affects the most vulnerable in society – children and older people, and those with heart and lung conditions – and it is associated with a plethora of adverse health impacts.
It was expected that by the 2020s Smoke Control Areas would be of little relevance as the majority of homes and businesses would have moved away from solid fuel burning with conversion to gas or electricity. However the rise in popularity of wood burning stoves and biomass boilers now poses an increasing threat to air quality and the health of those living and working in the borough.
The council believes that proactive measures now to improve air quality will have long-term positive impact by reducing the burden on the NHS, reducing health inequalities and enabling people to live longer and healthier lives.
Declaring the whole of Sandwell as a Smoke Control Area would help to reduce ambient air pollution levels and lower the health risks from domestic and commercial burning. By creating a borough wide SCA, all neighbourhoods in Sandwell would be afforded the same level of protection from potentially harmful emissions that are created by the burning of solid fuels in domestic properties and businesses.
However, it is conducting a survey to better understand the implications for local businesses, as well as discovering individual views on the proposal.
The survey only takes a couple of minutes to complete and closes on Monday 30 August. You can complete the survey here.
More information can be found at https://www.gov.uk/smoke-control-area-rules and if you have specific concerns or queries with regards to this proposal in relation to your business please email firstname.lastname@example.org.