Clean Air Strategy: wood burner industry reacts to ban

Bruce Allen, CEO of HETAS and chairman of Woodsure, wrote the following letter to Air Quality News reacting to Defra’s Clean Air Strategy, which was published yesterday and included measures to ban the sale of the most polluting fuels and ensure only the cleanest wood stoves are sold.

Dear Editor,

We welcome Defra’s 2019 Clean Air Strategy and are already working with them to bring about changes to existing smoke control legislation. Reducing particulate emissions from wood burning is an issue that the industry is working together on to ensure that the right stoves and the right fuel are part of the solution for air quality, not the problem.

Both HETAS, a national fuel and fireplace organisation, and Woodsure, who run a woodfuel certification scheme, are playing a key role. HETAS Registered Installers are helping to advise on the use of dry wood fuels, low sulphur smokeless fuels and modern clean-burning appliances. Defra’s strategy identifies that ‘using cleaner fuels, in a cleaner appliance which is installed by a competent person, knowing how to operate it efficiently, and ensuring that chimneys are regularly swept, will all make a big difference’.

Woodsure Ready to Burn logs are quality, dry logs which contain up to 20% moisture, which gives off greatly reduced amounts of smoke and pollution as well as giving off more useful heat. The scheme is backed by government and retailers including ASDA and B&Q have been encouraging and incentivising customers to purchase ‘Woodsure Ready to Burn’ wood and ‘HETAS Approved smokeless’ fuels.  Stoves are only as good as the fuel you burn and our message is simple – don’t burn wet wood. If homeowners are choosing to burn wet or poor-quality wood this will increase levels of PM2.5 particulates in their emissions.

As well as an intention to phase out the most polluting fuels, the government’s strategy sets out that only the cleanest stoves will be available for sale by 2022, thereby prohibiting the sale of heavily polluting stoves. Today’s Defra Exempt and Ecodesign compliant appliances have been engineered to reduce emissions by 80-90% compared to open fires and old stoves.

Through our network of stove manufacturers, installers, sweeps and fuel suppliers we are working hard to educate consumers on making the right choices that will benefit our environment.

Bruce Allen, CEO HETAS and Chairman of Woodsure

Severn House, Tewkesbury GL20 8HD