What is a DEFRA approved stove?

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Many parts of the UK are smoke control areas where you can’t emit smoke from a chimney unless you’re burning an authorised fuel or using ‘exempt appliances’, for example burners or stoves.

In a smoke control area you can only burn fuel on the list of authorised fuels, or any of the following ‘smokeless’ fuels, unless you’re using an exempt appliance:

  • anthracite
  • semi-anthracite
  • gas
  • low volatile steam coal


You can use oil or other liquid fuels in specially designed or adapted fireplaces.

A Defra Approved wood burning stove, or otherwise known as a Defra Smoke Exempt Appliance, Is a wood burning stove which has been fully tested and passed the UK Government’s strict Department of Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (Defra) criteria for emission levels. For the amount of smoke that it will be allowed to produce during all stages of normal operation. If you want to burn wood and you live in a UK city or large town, which is also classified as a Smoke Control Area, then in order not to break the law and risk a hefty fine, you must use a Defra Smoke Exempt Appliance.

Should I buy a DEFRA approved stove?

Ultimately the choice is yours to a certain extent depending on where you live and what you wish to burn. If you live in a UK city or large town, which is also classified as a Smoke Control Area, then in order not to break the law and risk a hefty fine, you must use a Defra Smoke Exempt Appliance. These tend to be more environmentally friendly when operated correctly, as it can’t produce nuisance smoke. It will also mean that your chimney and flue system stay cleaner for a lot longer. Saving you money.

Do DEFRA approved stoves look different? 

When Browsing Wood burning stoves it would be very difficult to tell what is a DEFRA approved stove and what isn’t from just looking at them. The Stoves will have been modified to allow a small continuous amount of combustion air through to the fuel to stop it smouldering when the air controls are, or appear to be, fully closed. Since the Defra tests are only concerned with wood burning, then this modification is usually undertaken to the secondary air inlet. You may find two similar stoves at different pricing this is due to the costs incurred to ensure an appliance receives its DEFRA approval. 

Find out if you live in a smoke control area:

All councils have there own policies its best to check with your locla council.


check my local area

Exempt appliances that can burn unauthorised fuels

Unauthorised fuels, such as wood, can only be burned in exempt appliances such as some boilers, cookers and stoves.

You must only use the types of fuel that the manufacturer says can be used in the appliance.

view exempt wood burners

Outdoor ovens, burners and barbecues

You can use outdoor barbecues, chimineas, fireplaces or pizza ovens.

Any of these appliances that release smoke through a chimney of a building – for example a summerhouse – can only burn authorised fuel or must be exempt.

Garden bonfires

You’re allowed garden bonfires in smoke control areas but you need to follow the rules on bonfires.

For more information

For more information regarding DEFRA and the goverments policies on burning fuels you can visit the government website here;


Defra Helpline

Nobel House 
17 Smith Square 


The quickest way to get a response is to call our Helpline which is open Monday to Friday 8:30am to 5:00pm (find out about call charges at www.gov.uk/call-charges). Alternatively you can use our contact form, or write to us at the postal address given above. We aim to reply to emails or letters within fifteen working days.