We are delighted that last night Defra finally released the government response to the Consultation on Cleaner Domestic Burning of Solid Fuels and Wood. This can be viewed at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/air-quality-using-cleaner-fuels-for-domestic-burning. Its been a long time coming due to Brexit and the recent elections but we are delighted that the announcement has finally been made and very much in line what we and industry wanted. In a nutshell, the headline points are as follows:
12 months from the date of this release, all wood sold for domestic combustion in volumes below 2m3 must be below 20% moisture content. In effect this means a ban for retailers selling nets of wet logs, particularly in some garage forecourts and garden centres, but it will also include local supplies in bulk bags or trailer loads. Only volumes over 2m3 will be allowed to be sold, but with clear instructions to make the customer aware that this is not suitable for immediate burning and must be stored.
This legislation will also mean that retailers will have to store the wood in the dry to prevent the product getting wet at point of sale.
2. Manufactured Solid Fuels
The sulphur and smoke emission standards presently in place for ‘Smoke Control Areas’ will be extended to the whole of the UK. Smoke control areas have always been something of an anomaly as we probably all associated them with large conurbations but no one really seemed to know where the lines were drawn (even Defra) and of course nothing was really ever policed.
Sales of all pre-packed bituminous house coal sold through retailers, supermarkets and DIY stores will be banned in February 2021. This ban will not however apply to the sales of loose coal sold direct to consumers via approved coal merchants for a further two years. The reason for this extended period for home deliveries of house coal is in recognition of the many people who are classed as being in ‘Fuel Poverty’ and receiving house coal to heat their homes as a primary source of heat. Manufactured solid fuels such as the various smokeless fuels are deemed to be more efficient in terms of energy efficiency than coal making them cheaper to burn.
The government will be running a communications campaign to help consumers, retailers and suppliers understand the new regulations so that they can reduce any potential hazards to health and the environment.
As pioneers of kiln dried logs nearly 15 years ago, we obviously welcome the news and this is something we have been pushing for, as one cannot underestimate the impact of burning wood that is not properly dried. Burning dry wood is simply the best in every way. Not only do you get more heat output and a cleaner burn, but if burning wood in an efficient wood burning stove, then you will use far less wood too.
Finally, just a quick note about today’s headlines. As usual there is quite a lot of incorrect reporting in the media and quite frankly its unbelievably frustrating as its just incorrect. The Telegraph has made reference to a possible future ban on wood burning stoves and Sky News on-line have used the caption under an image saying “Woodburning stoves will be phased out from next year”.
They have also made reference that stoves and woodburning stoves are now considered “the most harmful pollutant” affecting people in this country. The figure of ‘38% of particulates come from wood burning’ has been banded around for the last 18 months and that figure originated from Defra, but recent work by the Stove Industry Alliance (SIA) has demonstrated that this figure is more likely to be nearer 12%! Again, grossly inaccurate information.
The Stove Industry Alliance, of which we are members will be working hard over the coming days to make sure that where possible, this mis-reporting is corrected.
In summary, we hope that now this release has been made, hopefully all the negativity of woodburning will diminish and we can all focus on the benefits and to show that at times of severe pressure on Clean Air and climate change, wood burning should be seen as part of the solution rather than the problem. After all, if you want to get rid of fossil fuels, surely using a truly renewable and sustainable fuel source such as wood is a win win for all.