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SIA urges correct reporting of Bonfire Night emissions

As this year’s Bonfire Night celebrations took place up and down the country, a spike in particulate matter emissions was expected prompting The Stove Industry Alliance (SIA) to call for these emissions to be properly recorded and reported, rather than being apportioned as emissions from domestic wood burning stoves.

Andy Hill, chair of the SIA, commented: “It is a common misconception that 38% of PM2.5 emissions come from wood burning stoves. A significant proportion of the emissions currently recorded as domestic combustion come from unregulated outdoor burning, a practice that noticeably increases at this time of year. It is vital that we correctly apportion these emissions so that we can better understand and effectively tackle air pollution.”

Outdoor unregulated burning such as bonfires, firepits, BBQs, incinerators, and wildfires are all included within the current government figures for particulate matter from domestic combustion. So too are all open fireplaces. In London alone, open fires account for approximately 70% of all domestic wood burning, despite the capital being within a Smoke Control Area which makes the practice of burning wood on an open fire illegal under the Clean Air Act.

Mr Hill added: “The proportion of emissions that do come from burning wood for indoor heating can be dramatically reduced and carefully controlled by ensuring the use of Ecodesign compliant stove models with Ready to Burn certified wood fuel, along with professional installation and regular appliance maintenance and chimney sweeping. A modern Ecodesign compliant stove, such as a clearSkies certified appliance, produces up to 90% less emissions than an open fire and up to 80% less than a stove that is 10 or more year old. ”

The SIA has long disputed the accuracy of the 38% figure. It maintains the calculation relies on an incorrect over-assumption of wood fuel usage for domestic burning, as well as out of date emissions factors.

Mr Hill concluded: “The SIA estimates the true volume of wood fuel for domestic heating to be less than a third of that used by the Government to calculate the 38%. Indeed the Government’s own study, Burning in UK Homes and Gardens undertaken by Kantar recently, backs this up. We would therefore urge campaigners and policy makers to ensure that they consider all the facts before pointing the finger of blame for poor air quality at modern wood burning stoves this winter.”

8 November 2021

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