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Clean Air Strategy 2019 : what does it mean for stoves and wood burning?

By 14 January 2019

The UK Government is tacking air pollution as part of its Clean Air Strategy 2019 (released Monday 14 January 2019). But what does it mean for wood burning stoves and wood burning in general?

Some media reports suggest the Clean Air Strategy is about to pour water over wood burning stoves and wood burning altogether – but that simply isn’t the case.

Let us be clear. The Government isn’t banning burning from open fires and wood burning stoves. It isn’t banning the burning of wood. It is merely ensuring that by 2022 only the cleanest and most efficient stoves are available to purchase and that wood fuel can only be bought with a moisture content of 20% or less.

The Log People are committed to only providing wood fuel that has a moisture content of less than 20%  – so we’re ahead of the game. Put it this way. We’re certainly not waiting until 2022! We’re already doing it!

Below we answer some questions you may have about the Clean Air Strategy:

How can I comply with the Clean Air Strategy?

You don’t have to wait until 2022 to be Clean Air Strategy compliant. Take the following steps NOW to ensure you’re lighting your fire in the most eco-friendly way:

  • Use ready to burn fuel
    Always burn wood that is fully seasoned and ready to burn with a moisture content of 20% or less. Burning wet wood is harmful to the environment and also risks chimney fires.  For more guidance go to the Woodsure website.
  • Avoid burning treated waste wood and household rubbish
    Whilst it’s tempting to throw bits of broken up pallets and furniture onto a fire, and even throw in the odd bit of rubbish, doing so can be very harmful to the environment. Treated waste wood can emit environmentally damaging fumes and household rubbish (such as plastic crisp and sweet packets) can release toxic pollutants, such as arsenic, into your home when burnt.
  • Sweep your chimney at least once a year
    Particulates from your fire build up in your chimney, and as a result, reduce efficiency and increases the risk of chimney fires. Always work with a qualified chimney sweep who will be able to advise you on good burning practices for your open fire or stove.
    Find a HETAS approved chimney sweep
  • Only burn when you need to
    If your house is already warm enough ask yourself if you need to light the fire. The simplest way of reducing your environmental impact is to burn less.

Can I still light a fire?

Yes. The Government is not banning you from burning wood. However, in a bid to tackle increasing air pollution, the Government only wants dry logs with a moisture content of 20% or less to be available on the market by 2022.

But you don’t have to wait until this time to be Clean Air Strategy compliant. We only sell wood that’s fully seasoned and ready to burn with a moisture content of 20% or less.

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Are wood burning stoves going to be banned?

No. Under the proposals wood burning stoves are not going to be banned. As part of the Clean Air Strategy DEFRA recommends installing SIA Ecodesign Ready stoves and using ready to burn wood fuel that has a moisture content of 20% or less. The Stove Industry Alliance says SIA Ecodesign Ready stoves are not going to banned.

A modern SIA Ecodesign Ready stove will produce 90% less emissions than an open fire and 80% less emissions than an average 10 year old stove. This is based on independent test results from an accredited laboratory.

I have an open fire. How will the Clean Air Strategy affect me?

Whilst the Government hasn’t released specific guidance for burning in open fires DEFRA states that modern wood burning stoves produce much less smoke than open fires. However, before you go rushing out to buy a new stove or even stop using your open fire altogether, if you follow the steps above you can reduce your environmental impact immediately.

Fear not! Wood burning isn’t about to get the chop! 

The sale of inefficient polluting stoves and wet wood are nearing their end thanks to the Clean Air Strategy – and that can only be a good thing for the industry and for our environment.

The emissions released from wood burning simply depend on two things:

  1. The appliance the fuel is burnt on – so help the environment by burning in the most eco-friendly stoves (ideally an SIA accredited stove)
  2. How clean and how dry the fuel is – so always burn wood that’s dried to 20% moisture content or less

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No ban on wood stoves | The key points

The strategy summarises actions to reduce emissions from domestic burning, clearly identifying there is
no intention to ban wood burning stoves. Here are the key points:

  1. Legislate to prohibit sale of the most polluting fuels.
  2. Ensure that only the cleanest stoves are available for sale by 2022.
  3. Give new powers to local authorities to take action in areas of high pollution, bringing legislation into the
    21st century with more flexible, proportionate enforcement powers.
  4. Work with industry to identify an appropriate test standard for new solid fuels entering the market.
  5. Ensure that consumers understand what they can do to reduce their impact from burning.

The strategy also suggests Defra will give local authorities 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.

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