Domestic wood burners will no longer be allowed to use coal or wet wood from next year, the government has announced. Plans for the ban were first announced 18 months ago, but have only now have been confirmed as coming into force in 2021.
Under the new rules, the two most polluting types of domestic fuel, coal and wet wood, will not be available for purchase in shops from February 2021. This refers to small bags of coal and small bags or batches of wet wood (under two cubic metres in volume). Large-scale home deliveries of coal will still be allowed until 2023, while large-scale sales of wet wood for domestic use will need to come with advice on drying it out to reduce its harmful emissions.
Are wood burners bad for the environment?
Yes, when they burn specific types of fuel, especially wet wood and coal. The problem with these types of fuel is that they emit a high concentration of particulate matter that has been shown to adversely affect human health by getting into our lungs and blood. It's especially problematic for people with asthma. Environment Secretary George Eustice commented:
'Cosy open fires and wood-burning stoves are at the heart of many homes up and down the country. But the use of certain fuels means that they are also the biggest source of the most harmful pollutant that is affecting people in the UK.'
Will I still be able to buy wood for my wood burner?
Yes - you'll still be able to buy small batches of firewood, but it'll be properly kiln dried wood ready for burning, with a Ready to Burn mark on it. You'll also still be able to buy untreated wood if you're buying large quantities, that is over two cubic metres. You're not meant to burn it unless you properly dry it out yourself, although it's not clear how this can be enforced. There all kinds of good reasons for only using dry wood, though, including energy efficiency and less wear to your burner and chimney.
What alternatives to coal will I be able to buy?
There are several alternative fuels already available, including pellets and briquettes made from a variety of recycled materials, including recycled wood and coffee.