Moves to improve air quality by making Reading a 'Smoke Control Area'

Reading Council’s ongoing drive to improve air quality and create a healthier Reading for residents is moving forward with proposals to declare the entire borough a Smoke Control Area.

It is estimated that 22% to 38% of all damaging particulate emissions (PM2.5) in Reading are caused by the burning of solid fuel, like wood or coal. PM2.5 is particulate matter which is so small it can pass through people’s lungs and cause serious health issues.

As part of our commitment to tackling poor air quality, we are proposing to introduce what is known as a 'Smoke Control Area' (SCA) across the whole borough. Currently, only 62% of Reading falls under an SCA.

SCA’s allow local councils to take enforcement action where households emit a substantial or unacceptable amount of smoke from a chimney, or are found to be burning unauthorised fuel.

Authorised fuel is easy to identify by the ‘Ready to Burn’ logo and is available to buy from reputable suppliers.

Households using an exempt appliance or authorised ‘smokeless’ fuel should not produce an amount of smoke and would therefore not be subject to enforcement action.

But financial penalties between £175 and £300 can be issued where officers witness an offence, regardless of the appliance used or the fuel burned. Those burning unauthorised fuel could face fines of up to £1,000.

Under the plans, the Council is proposing revoking the existing SCA’s in Reading and replacing them with a single SCA which covers the whole borough.

We hope a single order covering the whole of Reading will make it simpler for residents to understand what the requirements are which will contribute to the reduction of the harmful PM2.5 particulate and provide cleaner air and health benefits for those who live and work in the borough.

Reading Borough Council has taken the decision to increase the Smoke Control Area to cover the whole borough. If agreed by Defra this will come into force in time for winter 2024. Comments received during the consultation process have been passed to Defra to consider.

If anyone would like to make any further comments or objections to this please email: or write to: Air Quality and Industrial Emissions, Defra, Seacole Building, 2 Marsham Street, London SW1P 4DF.

Further information on Smoke Control Areas and the proposal.

SEPT Committee Report

Last updated on 27/06/2023