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HETAS welcomes new law on safer and cleaner solid fuels

HETAS, the non-profit organisation committed to better practice in the use of biomass and other solid fuels, has welcomed the government’s publication of draft regulations for the Air Quality Domestic Solid Fuels Standards in England.

Bruce Allen, chief executive of HETAS

The draft legislation, which now passes to the Houses of Parliament for debate and amendment, will phase out the supply of house coal and smaller volumes of wet wood, in measures designed to reduce the environmental impact of domestic burning associated with the use of wood burning stoves and coal fires.

Bruce Allen, chief executive of HETAS, said: “This legislation marks a really significant step in supporting cleaner and safer choices for the use of biomass and other solid fuels. By phasing out the fuels that are known to emit high levels of particulates damaging to health and the environment, in favour of safer and cleaner biomass and other solid fuels, the industry can help customers to reduce pollution and maximise heat efficiency. This is something that HETAS and our colleagues in Woodsure have been working towards for many years.”

The new legislation, once approved, will come into force from 1 May 2021.

The Regulations will phase out the supply of:

• traditional house coal for domestic combustion

• wet wood sold in units of up to 2m3, and 

• introduce sulphur and smoke emission limits for manufactured solid fuels.

It is proposed that these changes will be phased in between 2021 and 2023, with all sales of small volumes of wet wood being phased out by 2022 and sales of traditional house coal by 2023.

“The government is clear that it is not banning wood burning stoves. Instead, these new regulations mean that customers purchasing smaller quantities of wood – whether for their stoves as supplementary heating in winter, or for outdoor cooking and dining in summer – will only be sold dry wood with no more than than 20% moisture content, clearly labelled as ‘Ready to Burn’. Those purchasing woodfuel in larger volumes will receive guidance on how to dry the wood before burning,” explained Mr Allen.

For the past four years HETAS has worked with colleagues from Woodsure to run the woodfuel quality assurance scheme, making it easier for people to find less polluting dry wood from retailers. Labelled Woodsure Ready to Burn, the wood is verified by the non-profit organisation’s independent inspectors as having a moisture content of up to 20%, which means it burns with less smoke than wetter wood.

Helen Bentley-Fox, director of Woodsure, said of the proposed legislation: “Since starting Woodsure 10 years ago, my colleagues and I have been campaigning for the right fuel for the right appliance to reduce pollution and to maximise heat efficiency. Wood burning stovesare designed to work on wood with a moisture content between 12 and 20%, which means they maximise the heat at these moisture contents. Burning dry wood can reduce the particulates emitted by up to 80% making a significant contribution to clean air. I am so pleased that next year burning dry wood can be enforceable.  

“By burning the right fuels, appliances will function more efficiently and safely, so this is really good news for everyone in the industry, appliance manufacturers, retailers, installers and sweeps.”

In its role driving ever better practice in the use of biomass and other solid fuels, HETAS supports the government and industry by certifying fuels, appliances and qualified people for safety and to reduce environmental impact, through the following key schemes:

• Operating the Woodsure Ready to Burn certification scheme

• Certifying smokeless fuel alternatives to coal, listed as ‘HETAS Approved smokeless fuels’ on the HETAS

•  Verifying independent test reports and certifying modern stoves that meet the highest standards for efficiency as HETAS EcoDesign Compliant. These are easy to find on the HETAS website

• HETAS runs the only Competent Person Scheme specialising in the installation of wood, biomass and solid fuel technologies


11 August 2020


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