Clean Air Strategy?
Misinterpretation of recent research studies and the subsequent, negative media attention of the UK’s worst pollution level contributors, has given rise to several claims that the government wants to ban solid fuel stoves. HETAS, Woodsure and The Stove Industry Alliance have all been in consultation with Defra, who have once again clarified that they are not looking to ban stoves. The Government’s position is reinforced by the publication of The Clean Air Strategy, which mentions Woodsure’s Ready to Burn scheme as a “proactive industry initiative” which is backed by the government. The Clean Air Strategy states that the calls for total bans received in response to the Government’s “Call for Evidence” of the impact of solid fuel burning were primarily due to “personal experience of nuisance or health impacts”, caused by misuse of appliances or use of incorrect and/or poor-quality fuels.
The Clean Air Strategy presents a list of goals which aim to reduce air pollution in the round, making our air healthier to breathe, protecting nature and boosting the economy. However some of the points listed directly relate to the solid fuel industry - the following action points aim to reduce emissions from domestic burning:
Increase consumer awareness
Making sure home-owners are educated on the benefits of modern appliances and which fuels to use will substantially reduce UK emissions. Local authorities have advised that awareness of, and compliance with, smoke control area legislation is low and that few people make the link between domestic burning and air pollution.
Legislate to prohibit sale of the most polluting fuels
The Government is looking to update their legislation to ensure only the cleanest fuels are available for sale. The Call for Evidence on domestic solid fuel burning sought to identify appropriate actions to reduce the sale of green wood in small bags which are often burned without being seasoned or dried, as well as the impact of phasing out the sale of the most polluting mineral fuels.
Only the cleanest stoves can be bought and installed
Tougher emissions standards for all new domestic stoves will come into effect in 2022. This will entail more stringent emission limit requirements for solid fuel appliances as well as a more effective approach to testing.
Give new powers to local authorities to take action
Smoke control areas are designated by local governments - it is illegal to allow smoke emissions from the chimney of your building in these areas. Historically, Smoke Control Areas have been hard to enforce, but local governments will be given additional powers to go further in areas of high pollution, for example exploring what further steps government can take to enable local authorities to encourage ‘no burn days’ during high-pollution episodes.
Quality tested fuels
Cleaner fuels produce less smoke, less soot and more heat. The Woodsure Ready to Burn scheme has been identified by Defra as the label to assist consumers in identifying firewood that is suitable for use. The Government is working with industry to identify an appropriate test standard for new solid fuels entering the market - the strategy mentions the intention to limit the harmful sulphur content of solid fuels to 2% nationwide to protect consumers health.
Look for stoves with the SIA eco ready 2022 stickers on.