Wet wood and bagged house coal sales to be phased out

The fuels are often sold at garden centres and are used for domestic wood burners, stoves and open fires.

credit: Defra
credit: Defra

Defra secretary of state George Eustice said "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."

The changes will mean:

  • Sales of bagged traditional house coal will be phased out by February 2021, and the sale of loose coal direct to customers will end by 2023
  • Sales of wet wood in small units (less than 2m3) will be phased out from February 2021. Wet wood in volumes greater than 2m3 will also have to be sold with advice on how to dry it before burning
  • Makers of solid fuels will also need to show they have a very low sulphur content and only emit a small amount of smoke.

Particulate matter is formed of tiny particles that can get into the lungs. 

The move delivers a commitment in the Government’s Clean Air Strategy.

Defra held a consultation in 2018: https://consult.defra.gov.uk/airquality/domestic-solid-fuel-regulations/

Caroline Ayre, National Manager for England for Confor - the trade body for forestry and wood-using businesses - said: “Processing and seasoning high-quality firewood is an important business for many of our members. We recommend customers Buy local – burn local and choose firewood with the Woodsure Ready to Burn label.

“Local firewood not only supports UK jobs and the rural economy, it is also crucial to managing our native woodlands. This is vital to ensure these woodlands’ health and existence as carbon stores and biodiversity habitats for the long term.

“Buying local seasoned firewood also helps to protect our woodlands from invasive pests and diseases, which can be imported on wet wood.”

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