Latest Government laws on wood burning stoves – avoid £1,000 fine

Fireplace and log-burner rules explained in 2021

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Wood burning stoves have risen dramatically in popularity over recent years, providing an additional form of heating for many, and for some, the sole source of heat. Wood burning stoves are cosy, efficient (often three times more so than an open fire) and burning wood can be relatively carbon neutral and sustainable compared to fossil fuels like natural gas, propane, and coal. With so many people worried about how they’re going to pay their energy bills with the soaring costs of gas and electricity, more people than ever may be relying on wood burning stoves. But with new regulations for wood burning stoves that affect the type of log burner you can buy and the fuel you can burn it’s important to get up to speed, whether you already own a wood-burning stove or you’re thinking about investing in one.

Log burner owners now have to comply with all sorts of clean air regulations and appliance exemptions which can be confusing. 

In 2022 new laws came into force that mean the type of log burner you can buy and what you put in them matters if you are to avoid paying a hefty fine.

It follows after a man was fined by Cheltenham Magistrates’ Court for burning materials which contained toxic chemicals such as paints and creosote, which give off emissions harmful to humans, animals and the environment.

You could face a penalty of up to £300 in England if your council decides your chimney releases too much smoke. However, this rises to up to £1,000 if you burn unauthorised fuel without an exempt appliance.

In England you may have to pay a penalty of up to £300 if your local council decides your chimney releases too much smoke. You can also be fined up to £1,000 if you burn unauthorised fuel without an exempt appliance.

The new wood burning stove laws came into force in an effort to curb the nation’s emissions, with the appliances accounting for 38 percent of particulate matter air pollution, a Government report says. 

But the buying and installation of new wood burning stoves is not banned, as many had feared, but there is a production ban on older-style stoves.

According to the HomeOwners Alliance, wood burning stoves and multi-fuel stoves and fireplaces now manufactured have to meet strict new guidelines known as Ecodesign. 

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The Ecodesign mark means the stove has been tested by an approved laboratory, meeting all requirements on air quality and particulates.

The new rules outlawed the sale of the most polluting fuels and ensures only the cleanest stoves are sold from 2022.

As these new regulations for wood burning stoves apply to the manufacture of new stoves, you can still use existing wood burning stoves even if they don’t meet the new standards.

Although if you live in a smoke control area, this may not be the case as there are other criteria you’ll need to meet.

Sales of bagged house coal and wet wood in units under two cubic meters are illegal. Government regulations state: “Burning at home, particularly with traditional house coal or wet wood, is a major source of the pollutant PM2.5 – which has been identified by the World Health Organisation as the most serious air pollutant for human health.

“People with log burners and open fires can still use them, but will be required to buy cleaner alternative fuels – if they are not already – such as dry wood and manufactured solid fuels which produce less smoke.

“Both of these cleaner options are just as easy to source and more efficient to burn, making them more cost effective.

“Burning dry wood also produces more heat and less soot than wet wood and can reduce emissions by up to 50 percent.”

Wood that is sold for the purpose of burning in stoves need to be RTG (Ready To Burn), meaning it has been tested and has a moisture content under 20 percent. 

Only certain types of wood are suitable for burning and the wood must be dry. This means it should have a moisture content of less than 20 percent. It’s very difficult to tell how dry a piece of wood is, so you could either invest in a moisture meter or ensure your wood is ready to burn by purchasing it from a bona fide supplier.

DEFRA appointed HETAS and Woodsure to run the RTB fuel certification scheme in order to achieve cleaner burning of wood.

Households can check if they are in one of the nation’s smoke control areas. Owners must only burn fuel on the list of authorised fuels, or any of the following ‘smokeless’ alternatives, unless you’re using an exempt appliance.

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