The Environment Act 2021, which became law on 9th November, will remove the partial exemption for boats from the Clean Air Act 1993. Local authorities will now have the power to apply their Smoke Control Areas to boats moored within the areas, under Section 73 and Schedule 12 of the Act.
CRT has been asked to provide contact information for boat owners to local authorities where they need it to enforce Smoke Control Areas. There is an exemption for smoke which is created to propel the vessel or to generate electricity. There is no exemption for heating. Local authorities can now impose fines of at least £175 for breaches of Smoke Control regulations.
We understand that the use of the power to bring inland waterway boats into the ambit of Smoke Control Areas will be subject to public consultation by local authorities. There are significant barriers that prevent liveaboard boaters from taking part in local consultations when they may only be resident in a local authority area for a short time.
We suggest that all boaters carry at least one bag of smokeless fuel if you don’t already use it, in case you unexpectedly find that you are moored in a Smoke Control Area. You can still use your existing stove.
In some Smoke Control Areas, the use of a small quantity of clean dry kindling to start a fire is allowed, but after this, only “approved fuel” can be used. Smokeless fuels are approved by DEFRA. Wood, timber or logs cannot be used for heating in a Smoke Control Area unless you use a DEFRA-certified stove (also known as an exempted appliance), and only burn good quality, dry wood. Non-exempted appliance users can only burn approved solid fuels. See https://www.gov.uk/smoke-control-area-rules
There are lists of DEFRA-approved smokeless fuels and DEFRA-approved stoves here https://smokecontrol.defra.gov.uk/index.php
The percentage of boaters and the proportion of emissions they cause compared to the general population are minimal given their relative numbers. However, there is a danger that this will be used as a tool to remove boats from areas where the local authorities are opposed to boat dwellers, or where local residents are hostile to liveaboard boaters.
There are no Smoke Control Areas in Wiltshire or West Berkshire. There are Smoke Control Areas in Bath, Bristol and Reading.
The whole of Bristol is in a Smoke Control Area. Around 62% of Reading is in a Smoke Control Area.
The Environment Act 2021 is online here: