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Wood burning stoves and other solid fuel burners | Air quality | Sandwell Council

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Air quality

Wood burning stoves and other solid fuel burners

Stoves and fireplaces impact on health

Wood burning stoves, fireplaces and other solid fuel burning appliances have become more popular in recent years. This increase means that there are more emissions of fine particulate matter (PM) from biomass burning and a subsequent increase in air pollution. Domestic burning through wood burning stoves and coal fires now makes up the single largest contributor to our national emissions of particulate matter, through indoor and outdoor air quality.

The tiny particles in smoke can cause a range of health impacts such as:

  • respiratory and cardiovascular morbidity such as aggravation of asthma, respiratory symptoms and an increase in hospital admissions
  • mortality from cardiovascular and respiratory diseases and from lung cancer
  • reduced life expectancy

Numerous scientific studies have linked poor air pollution with:

  • premature death in people with lung or heart disease
  • non-fatal heart attacks
  • irregular heart beat
  • aggravated asthma
  • decreased lung function
  • increased respiratory symptoms such as irritations of the airways, coughing or difficulty breathing

Impacts on air quality in your home

Wood burners can triple levels of harmful pollution within homes. Scientists advise they should not be used around elderly people or children.

When used correctly, exempted appliances should not emit visible smoke, but even Defra exempt appliances can emit high levels of PM2.5 pollution.  Any appliance or fireplace should also be properly maintained and your chimney should be swept regularly.

You should not burn old pallets, furniture or scrap wood as it may contain contaminants that can be harmful to your health and the environment.

The Air Quality (Domestic Solid Fuels Standards) (England) Regulations 2020

Under section 87 of the Environment Act 1995 (c. 25), new legislation surrounding the sale and purchase of Domestic Solid Fuels comes into effect on 1 May, 2021. The full Regulations can be viewed on the government legislation webpage.

The Air Quality (Domestic Solid Fuels Standards) (England) Regulations 2020, UK Statutory Instruments 2020 No. 1095 applies to England. It applies to the sale of wood in units less than two cubic metres, unless authorised, and a person must not supply a relevant unit of wood if it is not authorised wood. The moisture content of wood must be below 20%. The sale of wood for domestic combustion must have the "Ready to Burn" logo identified in Schedule 1 of the legislation, and relevant information included. The relevant information required with the sale of wood includes:

  • the name of the person who obtained the certificate from the approved wood certification body in respect of the relevant unit of wood in question and-
  • the number of the certificate issued by the approved wood certification body under Regulation 5(5).

Failure to comply will be liable on summary conviction to a fine. Some suppliers have longer to meet these Regulations than others.

For wood supplied in quantities of two cubic metres or more, the statement set out in Schedule 2 of the Regulation must be attached. Failure to do so is an offence punishable by a fine.

Regulation 10 of the legislation refers to the supply of certain manufactured solid fuels. Fuels need to be authorised and display the "Ready to Burn" logo, and have the relevant information. The supply of manufactured solid fuel must also be a fuel on the list maintained by the Secretary of State under regulation 12.

It is an offence to supply pre-bagged and loose bituminous coal, but an Approved Coal Merchant can supply loose bituminous coal to a consumer where the coat is sold directly to a consumer during the two year period ending 30th April 2023.

Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council can issue a penalty, under UK Statutory Instruments 2020 No. 1095 PART 6 Regulation 20. The penalty is £300 in respect of the offence in respect of which the penalty notice was issued, with the period of repayment being 28 days from the issue of the penalty. The Council may also recover the expenses reasonably incurred by it in enforcing these Regulations from a person in respect of whom it has taken any action against under these Regulations.