Defra consults on removal of Clean Air Act

The government issues call for evidence on its proposals to scrap or amend the Clean Air Act 1993 as part of its drive to cut red tape

The government has issued a call for evidence on its review of the Clean Air Act 1993 in England, which could be scrapped altogether under current proposals.

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is seeking views from the public, local authorities and businesses such as boiler manufacturers and those in the food industry as part of the consultation, which runs from September 3 until October 29.

Defra is proposing to scrap or amend the Clean Air Act 1993, which limits smoke emissions from chimneys

Defra is proposing to scrap or amend the Clean Air Act 1993, which limits smoke emissions from chimneys

The Clean Air Act (CAA) 1993 gives powers to local councils to control domestic and industrial smoke to improve local air quality and meet EU air quality standards for sulphur dioxide and particulate matter.

The CAA, which has its roots in legislation that is now almost 60 years old, also enables local councils to create ‘smoke control areas’ and order the use of cleaner fuels in these areas.

Defra first announced in June 2012 that it planned to consult on the review of the Act this year as part of its Red Tape Challenge to remove legislation that is ‘unnecessary or not working’ (see story).

The consultation comes as part of this review, which aims to ‘reduce burdens’ on business and local authorities; make environmental rules and regulations more user friendly; and maintain the quality of environmental regulations.

In March 2013, Defra published a report — carried out by air quality consultants Ricardo-AEA — which suggested that removing the CAA could lead to an increase in particulate matter emissions unless new legislation was introduced (see story).


The Clean Air Act 1993 contains measures which:

  • prohibit emissions of smoke within smoke control areas, unless using an exempted appliance or an authorised fuel.
  • prohibit emissions of dark smoke from any chimney, or from industrial or trade premises, subject to certain exemptions.
  • require approval of many commercial furnaces to ensure they don’t emit too much smoke, grit and dust.
  • require approval of many furnace chimneys to ensure they are high enough to disperse any residual emissions
  • prohibit cable burning except under an environmental permit.

Defra is also currently consulting on its proposals to remove the obligations for councils in England to monitor air pollution, a move which has been attacked by London Assembly members (see story) and also several Labour MPs (see story).


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