Woodsure welcomes new law on safer and cleaner solid fuels

Woodsure, the non-profit organisation striving to raise the quality of woodfuel in the industry, has welcomed the government’s publication of draft regulations for the Air Quality Domestic Solid Fuels Standards in England.

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

 

 

Bruce Allen, Chief Executive of Woodsure, 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 wet wood which is known to emit high levels of particulates damaging to health and the environment, in favour of safer and cleaner woodfuel with no more than 20% moisture content, the industry can help customers to reduce pollution and maximise heat efficiency. This is something that Woodsure has been working towards for many years.

New Legislation coming

Once approved, the new legislation – which sets out measures to prevent harmful pollution from the domestic burning of all solid fuels – will come into force from 1 May 2021.

The full remit of 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,

explains Bruce Allen.

Woodsure Ready to Burn scheme

For the past four years, the Woodsure certification scheme has been 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 stoves are 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.

Part of our role in certifying dry wood under the Woodsure Ready to Burn scheme has always been to support and guide suppliers as a critical part of the industry’s supply chain. Over the last decade I have seen many ways that suppliers can consistently meet less than 20% moisture content with and without a kiln. There are ways and means that can speed up natural drying to attain that 20%.

The long lead-in time for this legislation allows producers to prepare for winter 21/22 and the smaller suppliers will have an extra year, which allows for the areas where longer seasoning is required, and for them to adapt their processes and experiment with new and different ways to improve their product. Our team remains committed to helping all suppliers of firewood, whether large or small producers, supplier, kiln drier or seasoner, to feel supported over the next 18 months as we prepare for these changes.

Woodsure

Woodsure is a wholly-owned subsidiary of HETAS and both organisations support cleaner and safer choices for the use of biomass and other solid fuels, appliances and associated technologies. This is achieved by working with the government and industry, 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
  • 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.co.uk/find-appliance/
  • HETAS runs the only Competent Person Scheme specialising in the installation of wood, biomass and solid fuel technologies https://www.hetas.co.uk/professionals/installers/
  • Certifying smokeless fuel alternatives to coal, listed as ‘HETAS Approved smokeless fuels’ on the HETAS website hetas.co.uk