No prosecutions in central Lancashire over smoke-free breaches

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No prosecutions have been brought over breaching smoke-free zone rules in Central Lancashire, despite 34 complaints in the past three years.

Under the Clean Air Act it is an offence to emit smoke from a chimney, a furnace or from any fixed boiler if located in a designated smoke control area. To burn wood or coal, an approved multifuel or wood burning stove must be used, otherwise only smokeless fuels are permitted. The maximum fine is £1,000.

A Freedom of Information request by the Evening Post revealed the majority of the complaints were in South Ribble.

In 2012 there were eight complaints to the council, in 2013 there were 13 and last year there were 10. All were domestic chimneys.

In Chorley, there was one complaint for 2012, 2013 and also in 2014. Preston Council said there had been no complaints since 2012.

Coun Phil Smith said South Ribble Council preferred an educational approach.

He said: “Most people don’t realise they’re breaking rules around the types of fuel or appliances they can use, and once they’ve had them explained are happy to comply.

“That’s not to say that we would hesitate to prosecute if we thought it was necessary to resolve a problem.”

Coun Paul Walmsley, of Chorley Council, said all complaints were fully investigated, adding: “Complaints don’t necessarily result in a prosecution because there are exemptions for smoke even in a smoke control area, when it arises from starting the fire for example.

“We find that a visit to the householder is sufficient to make them aware of the issue.”