Woodsure was founded by Andrew Harvey around nine-years ago. Andrew is a man passionate about forestry and British woodland as well as a person keen to ensure that firewood has more of a quality focus. Woodsure began as his sideline passion, started small and steadily grew, but initially with a greater focus on woodchip quality for boilers. As with all voluntary schemes, money can be a problem, but Andrew helped to fund the early years to enable the scheme gain momentum.
Back in 2006, when Certainly Wood was formed, managing director, Nic Snell, saw a need to develop a quality-control system for their new firewood business. Having pioneered a unique kiln drying process, the business wanted to bring an element of professionalism to the industry and to raise the standards. Working with HETAS, they developed the first-ever quality assurance scheme called HETAS Quality Assured Fuel.
Both HETAS and Woodsure ran as separate organisations, both trying to build the number of woodchip and firewood producers that would work to their standards. However, this was at a time when firewood demand was on the increase and still a very fragmented business, with thousands of small producers throughout the UK, many of whom produced firewood as a part time business. Most had no inclination to become part of any quality assurance scheme or see a need to start filling in forms and regulating their production. Why bother when they could easily sell all the firewood they could produce and without the need to pay a few hundred pounds every year for the privilege?
At a similar time to Woodsure, The Welsh Timber Forum set up Woodfuel Wales to promote quality firewood. They also created their own quality control scheme, printing booklets to promote dry wood to the consumer and to encourage firewood producers to join and help drive up firewood quality. They began to work alongside HETAS.
So, three different schemes, all with the same goal. Woodfuel Wales fizzled out in about 2015, but Woodsure got together with HETAS to form one scheme under the brand of Woodsure. This started to gain some momentum under the guidance and drive of HETAS.
DEFRA realised in their review of their Clean Air Strategy that one of the problems with woodburning was the fact that so many retailers, such as supermarkets and garage forecourts, were selling nets of logs of poor quality and far from dry. Poor quality wood was suddenly recognised as a major contributor to smoke and particulates. Therese Coffey, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Environment, invited the major industry players to a round table meeting to discuss the issue and see how the industry could help.
From here, the Woodsure Ready to Burn scheme was born with the sole focus of producers supplying wood dried to below 20% moisture content with a recognisable logo and brand for packaging and point of sale material. Getting the major retailers on board was the next challenge but now, in 2019, that has been achieved. All the major suppliers are now members with most packaging carrying the distinctive Ready to Burn logo featuring the supplier number below.
In a recent survey undertaken by the Stove Industry Alliance (SIA) with over 10,000 responses, the new Ready to Burn scheme was recognised by nearly 30% of respondents. It’s gathering pace but needs the Government to now legislate and force retailers to only sell firewood that is assured under the scheme. Look out for the logo and give it your full support and have the comfort that all the wood fuel you buy with this logo will be thoroughly dried and will burn cleanly with minimal particulate emissions.