Scotland wood-burning stoves Wood-burning stoves in Scotland: what’s going on?

Wood-burning stoves in Scotland: what’s going on?

The Stovax Heating Group is committed to helping you navigate the conversations surrounding the new regulations on heating with a wood-burning stove in Scotland. Here, we aim to unpack the commonly asked questions about the New Build Heat Standard and answer with what we know so far for how the new rules affect the solid fuel stove industry.

Have wood-burning stoves been banned across Scotland?

No. The new rules only apply to particular new properties and conversions. This new law does not have any impact on properties that already have a wood-burning stove, and the Scottish government have said that they can still be installed in new homes where a ‘need can be justified’, such as for emergency heating.

Stovax Vogue 700 woodburner. Natural and green accents in a living room.

What are the new regulations about wood-burning stoves in Scotland?

Starting from April 1st 2024, the New Build Heat Standard (NBHS) became law. These new regulations prohibit the installation of wood-burning stoves in new-build homes in Scotland. It applies to all new buildings and some conversions where a building warrant is applied for.

The NBHS does not apply:

  • if you are altering or extending a building built under a warrant applied for before 1 April 2024
  • to an emergency heating system
  • to heating provided solely for the purpose of frost protection

Does this affect multi-fuel stoves?

Yes. The regulations apply to all direct emission heating systems, including bioenergy, used for heating and cooling. Direct emission systems include any appliance that emits pollutants at source.

I have an existing house with an old stove or an empty fireplace. Can I install a new wood-burning or multi-fuel stove?

Yes, absolutely! If your house does not fall under the NBHS regulations (i.e not a new conversion or a new-build property) then you can upgrade your fireplace to include a modern, high-efficiency stove.

Stovax Studio Air freestanding log burner

Why is the NBHS being introduced?

Scotland’s government are looking to reduce carbon emissions, and views the ban of solid fuel stoves as being helpful towards supporting this goal.

On the contrary, however, the Stove Industry Association (SIA) are advising that banning a wood stove in a house likely increases its carbon emissions for heating, and will do for many years until the carbon intensity of grid electricity reduces considerably.

SIA state that wood has the lowest carbon emissions factor of any domestic heating fuel, and is a low carbon solution.

It is widely accepted that wood as fuel is a sustainable renewable energy, and virtually carbon neutral as it releases approximately the same amount of carbon into the atmosphere as that which was absorbed during the growth of the tree.

Is the solid fuel industry in favour of the new regulations?

The solid fuel industry, including the Stovax Heating Group as a forward-thinking manufacturer, is supportive of the overarching goals for cleaner air and reduced emissions across the entire UK and Republic of Ireland.

However, the wood-burning stove industry is opposed to the new standard, and the SIA has written to the Government’s Ministers with responsibility for Zero Carbon Buildings & Energy. They have expressed the view that the standard has the potential to increase carbon emissions, limit consumer choice and significantly impact households in rural Scotland, along with the threat it poses to the businesses of the numerous retailers, installers and chimney sweeps across the country.

How is the industry committed to reducing emissions?

Reputable manufacturers and retailers across the entire industry are committed to improved air quality and emissions reductions with the innovation and education of using Ecodesign wood-burning stoves and fires. These appliances are built to meet – and in many cases exceed – today’s stringent air requirements, designed to lower emissions.

Nordpeis ME wood-burning stove

What constitutes a conversion?

Aside from the obvious, like barn conversions, the NBHS fact sheet states that a conversion is a ‘particular change in occupation or use of a building, for example changing an office to a hotel or an attic into a bedroom.’ The regulations will apply if you have an affected heating system in the building or the area of the building you are converting, and if it is also reasonably practicable to install a ‘clean heating system’.

Stovax Huntingdon 20 wood-burning stove.

The fact sheet loosely defines these systems as climate-friendly alternatives, such as heat pumps and heat networks. Ultimately, systems that do not emit pollutants at source.

What are the rules for installing a stove in an extension?

It is not fully clear what the rules are. The NBHS implies that an installation in an extension is exempt, however, some Building Control Officers within local councils are no longer permitting the installation of a wood-burning stove in a property extension unless it is for emergency heating. The industry is awaiting clarity on this from the Scottish government.

The standard says there are exceptions for emergency heating systems. How is this interpreted?

It is unclear as to what constitutes an emergency heating system, or how the need can be justified. SIA is seeking clarity on how emergency is to be interpreted.

From our perspective, a wood burning or multi-fuel stove can prove invaluable as a sole heat source, or when used to supplement your existing heating system. Increased weather events leading to power cuts and grid outages make a wood-burning stove more attractive, and even a basic need.

When the heating system of a house is designed correctly, it’s made to assume a minimum external temperature. This differs depending on whereabouts in the UK you live. More and more these days, there are times during winter where the outside temperature drops considerably more than the minimum design temperature. Whether you are using central heating, underfloor or heat pump, all of these can need support. When there is a cold snap, like those seen in recent years where the temperature has dropped to -10oC, these systems can struggle to cope.

A stove in this scenario could even prove absolutely essential – this may help you consider whether or not you view the need for a log burner as fit for emergency when justifying the need for installation.


NBHS Fact Sheet
Stove Industry Association – Response to 2023 Environmental Improvement Plan
Stove Industry Association – New Build Heat Standard

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