Is wood burning going to be banned? A question I keep being asked.
Updated: May 29, 2020
DEFRA is not looking to ban the burning of wood but it has laid out some proposals for England on various fuels, below is pasted/edited some words from HETAS concerning them. Of course they are rightly aimed at reducing the harmful emissions from our appliances and improving our health. They involve eliminating the sale of house coal, placing standards on the moisture content of wood for sale and setting standards for manufactured solid fuels.
The government propose that wood sold in single units under 2 m ³ (loose stacked) must have a moisture content of 20% or less. ‘Wet wood’ sold over these volumes will be required to come with advice on how to dry it ready for burning. Wood sold in smaller quantities is more likely to be used immediately and not dried at home, the proposal aims to limit the sale of wood sold in smaller sizes of packaging to dry wood only. The government now intend to take forward their proposal for a mandatory certification scheme demonstrating that wood sold in volumes under 2 m ³ is dry (less than 20% moisture content). For sales of wet wood, seasoning instructions should accompany all sales along with a warning advising that the wood is not suitable to be burnt without appropriate drying. Retailers will be required to store seasoned/dry wood in such a way as to keep it dry.
In the future it looks like a ban will be introduced on the sale of all bagged traditional house coal. For a transition period, approved coal merchants will be able to sell loose traditional house coal direct to customers. Traditional house coal direct sales will be prohibited two years after that. Government has confirmed it isn’t looking to ban the sale of all coal. They want to see a move away from using traditional house coal towards less polluting fuels by only allowing the sale of smokeless coal (or anthracite) and low Sulphur manufactured solid fuels for the purpose of domestic heating. The government believes that those in fuel poverty should be protected from the effects of more polluting fuels. Analysis was undertaken to assess the impact any policy will have on those who use coal as an important source of heating. The analysis found that manufactured solid fuels are actually more efficient on an energy density basis. This makes them cheaper to burn than say house coal. A package of measures is to be put in place to educate people so they move from traditional house coal to smokeless coal or manufactured solid fuels. Measures include education through coal merchants supported by a government-led communications campaign. Manufactured Smokeless Fuels
For manufactured solid fuels used in domestic combustion it is proposed they should conform to a test confirming Sulphur content below 2% and the fuel emits less than 5 g smoke per hour. . There should be a labelling requirement on solid fuel to demonstrate that the fuels meet the standard. This requirement will mean all manufactured solid fuels will need to get their products certified. Guidance will be issued to manufacturers in ensuring their products are compliant.
Fuels such as coffee and olive logs are entering the market. Customers need to be certain that these products are safe to use and no testing standard currently exists. The government suggest that further research is needed to consider the most appropriate standard for these products to ensure that health and environmental impacts are minimised. The response also states that government intends to review such fuels with a view to setting any relevant standards. It has been clarified that these fuels may continue to be sold outside smoke controlled zones. They may only be sold in Smoke Control Areas if they meet the smoke and Sulphur requirements. Manufacturers of these fuels may apply for certification, and these products will be approved if they meet the requirements.