Your local council can introduce extra controls on emissions if there are air quality problems in your area.
Air Quality Management Areas
If air quality falls below required standards, your council will declare an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) and plan for improvements.
Check if your business is in an AQMA and if you’re affected by:
- road charging
- parking restrictions
- increased restrictions on waiting and loading times
- taxes to encourage moving goods by rail
- the review of planning applications by a pollution control team
Smoke Control Areas
Your council can also declare a Smoke Control Area. This means you can only use authorised fuels, or exempted furnaces and boilers. Chimney smoke is not allowed, with only a few exceptions.
You could be fined up to £1,000 for each offence.
If you’re a contractor working at different locations you should always check if you’re in a Smoke Control Area.
The darker the smoke, the more polluting it tends to be. Smoke darker than a specified shade of grey is officially classified as ‘dark smoke’.
The Ringelmann chart is used to define dark smoke. The chart has 5 shades of grey with 0 being clear and 5 being black. Smoke is considered ‘dark’ if it is shade 2 or darker.
Chimney and boiler restrictions
You mustn’t release dark smoke from your premises, including from:
- chimneys serving furnaces
- fixed boilers or industrial plants, whether they’re attached to buildings or not
There are some exemptions if emissions won’t damage health or cause a nuisance.
Boilers, Furnaces and Chimneys
Boilers and furnaces
You need a permit for most generators, furnaces and boilers.
Get a permit
You’ll need a Part A(1) environmental permit if your appliances:
- have an aggregated rated thermal input of 50 megawatts (mw) or more
- burn waste oil, recovered oil or any fuel made from waste, with a rated thermal input of 3 to 50 mw
Get a Part A(1) permit from:
You’ll need or a Part B environmental permit if your appliances:
- have a rated thermal input of 20 to 50 mw
- burn waste excluded from the Waste Incineration Directive (WID) with a rated thermal input of 0.4 to 3 mw
Get a Part B permit from your local council.
Small Waste Incineration Plant (SWIP) environmental permit
You’ll need a Small Waste Incineration Plant (SWIP) environmental permit if your appliance can burn either:
• less than 10 tonnes per day of hazardous waste
• less than 3 tonnes per hour of non-hazardous waste (equivalent to 72 tonnes per day)
Get a SWIP environmental permit from your local council.
Your local council must approve:
- the use of a new non-domestic furnace in a building, fixed boiler or industrial plant
- changes to an existing furnace
Contact your local council about grit and dust arrestment if you don’t have an environmental permit and your furnace is going to be used to burn:
- pulverised fuel
- any other solid matter at a rate of 45.4 kilograms (kg) or more an hour
- liquid or gaseous matter at a rate equivalent to 366.4 kilowatts (kw) or more an hour
You might not need approval if your boiler won’t create emissions that can damage health or cause a nuisance. Contact your local council to check if you’re exempt.
Chimney height requirements
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 your application if your chimney isn’t high enough.
You must apply for chimney height approval if:
- you don’t have an environmental permit
- your boiler’s fuel consumption exceeds 45.4 kg of solid fuel an hour
- your boiler’s fuel consumption exceeds 366.4 kw of liquid or gas fuel an hour
If your approval application is refused your local council will tell you the minimum chimney height you need.
A chimney may be exempt if it is used as part of:
- a temporary replacement, for example if the boiler or furnace is being repaired
- a temporary source of heat or power for building works
- an auxiliary plant to bring the main plant up to operating temperatures
- a mobile source of heat or power for agricultural purposes
If the use of your chimney changes you must re-apply for approval.
Boiler emission requirements
You must fit all boilers with grit and dust arrestment equipment. You can apply to your local council for an exemption if your boiler won’t create emissions that could damage health or cause a nuisance.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions Permit
The European Union Emissions Trading System applies to the following business activities:
- combustion installations with a rated thermal input exceeding 20 megawatts eg operating boilers, electricity generators and combined heat and power (CHP) schemes
- metal ore (including sulphide ore) or sintering installation
- iron and steel businesses
- mineral oil refineries
- coke ovens
- the mineral industry (cement, glass, ceramics, lime production)
- production of pulp from timber or other fibrous materials
- paper and board with a production capacity greater than 20 tonnes per day
- nitric acid production
If you carry out any of these activities you must hold a greenhouse gas emissions permit from one of the following regulators:
- the Environment Agency in England and Wales
- the Scottish Environment Protection Agency in Scotland
- the Industrial Pollution and Radiochemical Inspectorate department of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency in Northern Ireland
Once you have a permit, you may be eligible to an allocation of free emissions allowances.
Applications for the permit must be accompanied by the prescribed fee.
Applications must include:
- a description of the installation and site and its address and national grid reference and the name of the local authority or authorities the installation is situated in
- the emissions-generating activities to be carried out in the installation including a description of the technology used and the materials used in carrying out those activities
- the sources of specified emissions from the relevant activities
- a description of planned measures to monitor and report specified emissions
- a description, including the reference number, of any environmental licence issued in relation to the installation
- any further information which the applicant wishes the regulator to take into account
- the name, address and telephone number of the applicant, the correspondence address if different, the registered number and the registered or principal office address if the business is a registered company and the name and address of the ultimate holding company if the applicant is a subsidiary
- a non-technical summary of the installation information
You must provide any other information requested by the regulator.
The regulator will decide your application within two months of the date the application was received. Conditions will be attached to a permit.
You will not be granted a permit if the regulator believes that you will not be the person operating the installation or that you will ensure that monitoring and reporting conditions will be met.
Where an application is for a permit to operate more than one installation, the application must contain the required information in relation to each installation.
You must comply with all of the conditions contained in the permit. Your regulator may review the conditions of the permit at any time. You are required to notify the regulator when you cannot comply with conditions.
Conditions will include requirements to monitor and report on emissions, including specifying the frequency of monitoring and methods used and that annual reports are submitted. Conditions will require you to surrender allowances that are equal to your reportable emissions within four months of the end of the scheme year when the emissions took place.
Fines and penalties
If you fail to comply with requirements you may commit a criminal offence and be fined, imprisoned for up to two years or both. In addition there may be civil financial penalties for excess emissions or understating reportable emissions. If you fail to pay required fees your permit may be revoked.
Yellow Fish Scheme – Preventing Water Pollution
‘Yellow fish’ is an Environment Agency project (in England) that builds on an international approach to protecting the environment. It involves stencilling a yellow fish symbol beside drains to remind people that any waste entering them may go directly to the nearest stream, river, lake, canal, beach or bathing water - causing pollution and killing wildlife.
Complete and return the feedback form with your project details and the Environment Agency will add your project to our yellow fish map.
Yellow Fish Guidance Manual for Businesses
Yellow Fish Feedback Form.
Noise Assessment and Control
This document outlines permit conditions and regulation of noise. It also describes the principles of noise measurement and prediction and the control of noise by design, by operational and management techniques and abatement technologies.
Noise Assessment and Control Guidance
Ensuring your alarm doesn’t cause a nuisance
Ensuring your alarm doesn’t cause a nuisance
Repeated or prolonged ringing of alarms can cause nuisance and distress to neighbours. In such circumstances the council can take steps to disconnect alarms and charge or even prosecute owners for doing so.
You should therefore ensure that your alarm is properly maintained and serviced and complies with BS 4737 (1986). Alarms should be fitted with an automatic cut out to silence the alarm after 20 minutes.
You should notify the Police and local council in writing of the names and contact details of two keyholders who can attend within 20 minutes.
Code of practice
Burglar alarms should cut out and reset after 20 minutes.
This is not law, but a recommendation and we can take action if alarms cause noise nuisance.
Notifying of nominated keyholders
It is important that you register your alarm keyholders with the Police and the council. This information will be needed if your alarm malfunctions and causes a nuisance to your neighbours.
Inform the Noise and Pollution team with the most up to date information and we will pass a copy of this information on to the West Yorkshire Police
This information leaflet is designed to clearly and simply inform consumers how to install their security lights effectively to reduce light pollution.
It was jointly written with Campaign to Protect Rural England, Campaign for Dark Skies and the Institution of Lighting Professionals.
Getting Light Right Leaflet
Asbestos Regulations for Commercial Properties
If you’re the landlord, tenant or managing agent of a commercial property you may be responsible for managing asbestos, unless your contract or lease says otherwise.
What you must do
If you have a lease or contract, check who is responsible for asbestos.
Find out where the asbestos is (you’ll probably need an external accredited surveyor to carry out an asbestos survey).
Have the material analysed and keep a record of what you find.
Carry out a health and safety risk assessment.
Share the information with anyone likely to come into contact with the area, eg builders.
Keep anything containing asbestos in good repair or have it sealed or removed.
If you don’t have a plan to deal with asbestos and put it in action, you could face:
- a fine of up to £20,000
- imprisonment for up to 12 months
For a serious breach you could face an unlimited fine and/or imprisonment of up to 2 years.
Owners of derelict or vacant premises and warehouses also need an asbestos survey.
More detailed information
In England, Scotland and Wales
Find more on managing asbestos on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website.