Want to know more about the new log burner rules? Here, we break down everything you need to know about the UK’s new Environment Plan, and what it means for buying, owning, and using a wood burning stove.
Since the recent publication of the UK Government’s 2023 Environment Plan, a number of misleading articles have surfaced, which frame domestic woodburning as something which ought to be, or is soon to be, a thing of the past in Britain. Now, you may be left wondering whether you can still use your log burner.
In short, you can! But to dispel any worries, here, we’ll be cutting through the noise and bringing you all the facts about what the Environment Plan means for you, and why we here at Stovax support it completely!
Five years ago, the UK’s 25 Year Environment Plan set out a vision, containing action to improve the health of the natural environment in Britain. At that time, government committed to reviewing this plan every five years to make necessary changes as more scientific data on climate and other environmental issues became available. This was set into law in the Environment Act of 2021, and the 2023 Environmental Improvement Plan, published on 31st January 2023, is the first of these five-yearly revisions.
The plan contains ten core environmental goals, along with steps for how we as a country can strive to achieve them in years to come. Goal 2 is Clean Air, and the government’s plan of action surrounding this goal does have something to say about domestic burning – and we agree with all of it!
Unauthorised smokey fuels and inefficient open fires have presented air pollution problems for decades, and we support the government’s efforts and commitments to move the nation toward more effective and sustainable methods of heating. According to the SIA, open fires produce ten times the particulate matter that a modern, Ecodesign stove does. As a trusted solid fuel manufacturer, we at Stovax strongly recommend that you upgrade your outmoded open fires.
We’ve also welcomed bans on common house coal and fuels with a high sulphur content, as well as restrictions placed on the sale of wet wood. These low-grade fuels produce far more emissions and can damage stoves and chimneys.
Thanks in part to efforts like these – efforts stemming from within our own industry – emissions of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) decreased by 18% between 2010 and 2020. We are eager to ensure that this trend continues, by working to continually improve our appliances and develop an awareness of proper burning practises.
Ultimately, the updates set forth in the new Environment Plan reflect the commitments of a government that, like us, understands both the necessity of woodburning for many British people, as well as the importance of using authorised fuel, a modern appliance, and a skilled installer. We strongly support the new clean air strategy, and see it as completely in line with our own environmental values and goals as an industry-leading manufacturer.
With that in mind, we want to quickly answer some pressing questions, which we have been asked regularly in recent days. We hope these answers can clear up any confusion and concern.
No! The new Environment Plan recognises that, “some households are reliant on solid fuel burning as a primary source for heating, hot water and cooking.” For that reason, the new limits are for manufacturers, not for homeowners. As a result, as long as you are abiding by local smoke restrictions, you will still be allowed to use your current stove.
Still, if your stove is a little dated, there is certainly something to be said for upgrading to a brand new Ecodesign one! They’re much more efficient, and the levels of pollutants produced are considerably less than their older counterparts.
Absolutely not! Within the new Environmental Improvement Plan, there is nothing which says you can’t buy a new woodburning stove. The plan says that the government are not even considering a ban.
Now, there is a little more to say. If you live in a DEFRA Smoke Control Area, there will soon be stricter manufacturing limitations than there were before. Appliances installed today in Smoke Control Areas must produce less than 5g/hour of smoke emissions, and the new environment plan would reduce this figure to a mere 3g/hour. Essentially, stoves manufactured for installation in these areas will need to produce even less smoke than before.
The new limits only apply to stove models built after a certain, future date and we are still awaiting confirmation as to when this will be. We at Stovax, though, are well-prepared for whenever the new rules come into place, because we’ve been very busy in recent years making sure our stoves and fires comply with future emissions standards, not just current ones. As a result, almost 95% of our DEFRA exempt stoves and fires already meet this 3g/hour standard! Not to mention, our expert R&D engineers are working hard to touch up the final 5%.
These rules haven’t changed. In a Smoke Control Area, you can only burn wood on a DEFRA-exempt appliance, or burn authorised smokeless fuels. This law has been in place for many years, and has been a positive implement, intended to improve the air quality of these zones. There is also a limit on how much smoke you can release from a chimney – in England, you could receive a £300 fine for releasing too much smoke in a Smoke Control Area, or up to £1000 for burning unauthorised fuel without an exempt appliance. It’s essential, therefore, to source the right fuel. Look for the Woodsure Ready to Burn logo if burning wood – this mark helps you easily identify wood that can be burnt in compliance with air quality regulations. For authorised smokeless fuels, refer to the DEFRA exemption website: www.stovax.com/authorisedfuels
When it comes to woodburning, these are nothing to worry about. Clean Air Zones are only intended to restrict air pollution produced by vehicles in high-traffic areas. As such, they do not impose any restrictions for domestic burning. You can have a solid fuel stove installed in a Clean Air Zone, as long as it complies with all the usual Ecodesign emissions standards (and DEFRA standards for Smoke Control Areas where applicable).
When it comes to owning and using a log burner, there are a few things we can do to ensure that our impact on air quality is minimal.
As a manufacturer committed to a sustainable future, we are passionate for homeowners to understand how the right habits and actions can continue to have a positive impact on reducing air pollution.
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