Contrary to some of the recent national media coverage, the announcement last month by DEFRA to phase out the sale of coal and wet wood for domestic burning does NOT mean that wood burning stoves are being banned or discouraged by the government. It is not the end of the roaring hearth or cosy fireplace as many headlines stated – it simply means people will need to use cleaner fuel alternatives such as dry wood for their stoves at home.
Defra Announcement on Polluting Fuels
Defra announced on 21st February 2020 that sales of bagged and pre-packaged traditional house coal and wet wood in units under 2M3 will be phased out by 2021. The sale of loose coal direct to customers via approved coal merchants will also be banned by February 2023, meaning members of the public will need to switch to cleaner fuels by these dates.
There will also be limitations on the sale of manufactured solid fuels for domestic fires by February 2021 – fuels with a low sulphur content which emit a small amount of smoke will still be allowed.
Defra said in a statement ‘this phased implementation will ensure that public and suppliers have time to move to cleaner alternatives such as dry wood and manufactured solid fuels, while continuing to be able to use their stoves and open fires at home.’
Environment Secretary George Eustice also commented ‘Cosy open fires and wood-burning stoves are at the heart of many homes up and down the country, but the use of certain fuels means that they are also the biggest source of the most harmful pollutant that is affecting people in the UK. By moving towards the use of cleaner fuels such as dry wood we can all play a part in improving the health of millions of people.’
You Can Still Use Dry Wood
Most domestic stoves and fires can use dry wood as their fuel and will therefore not be affected. Coal and wet wood are being banned as they are the two most polluting fuels, contributing to around 40% of harmful levels of the pollutant PM2.5 in the UK. These announcement form part of the government’s Clean Air Strategy which aims to tackle a range of pollutants including PM2.5, ammonia and sulphur dioxide in the UK.
The advantage of dry wood – both kiln and air dried – is that it is cheaper and more efficient to burn than wet wood and coal and therefore people who rely on stoves for heat will not see their fuel costs rise.
The Stove Industry Welcomes the Regulations
The Stove Industry Alliance (SIA) has welcomed the government’s announcement and emphasised in a press release that modern Ecodesign compliant stoves burning the correct fuels continue to be a sound, environmental heating solution. Ecodesign ready stoves produce 90% less emissions than an open fire and use a completely renewable and sustainable fuel.
The SIA encourages the public to burn approved dry wood and smokeless fuel in a modern Ecodesign ready appliance. These fuels are widely available and if you’re unsure whether your appliance is Ecodesign ready, speak to us for advice.
Wood Burning Stoves are NOT Being Banned
DEFRA’s announcement does not in any way suggest that wood burning stoves are being banned. The Stove Industry Alliance has called for more accurate reporting on this story as the industry employs over 25,000 people and their livelihoods are being put at risk by misreporting.
Morley Sage, chair of the SIA, commented: “We welcome today’s announcement that will see the most polluting fuels phased out and encourage homeowners to use approved dry wood. As an industry that employs over 25,000 people across manufacturing, retailing, installation and servicing, headlines that suggest that wood burning stoves are being banned are not only categorically untrue, they are also very damaging to people’s jobs and livelihoods.
Contact Us for Advice
If you want any advice on this announcement or want to know more about Ecodesign ready stoves, please don’t hesitate to contact us and we’ll be happy to chat to you.