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HETAS responds to Clean Air Night Campaign – Keeping you informed

There will be no doubt you will have seen some misleading headlines about a possible ban on wood stoves and the dangers of using them. In this update, HETAS looks at what measures government and our industry are undertaking in relation to domestic burning. This includes confirmation, through the recently published Environmental Improvement Plan (2023), that government is not considering a ban on domestic burning in England, recognising that some households are reliant on solid fuel burning for heating, hot water, and cooking. It is also important to differentiate statistics related to domestic burning and the use of wood burning stoves to heat homes. Some of the messaging from recent campaigns, such as Clean Air Night and Wood burning London, are incorrect or very misleading.

Some key points to consider when addressing the current misconceptions:
• Government is not considering a ban on domestic burning in England.
• Use of modern wood burning stoves can help to improve air quality inside the home due to the natural draught created when the stove is in operation and used properly.
• There are many other sources of particulate matter (PM) in the home, including cooking, that can release far higher levels of PM compared to modern wood burning stoves; Modern Ecodesign compliant stoves produce 90% less particulate emissions than an inefficient open fire.
• HETAS Cleaner Choice certified products must demonstrate a 50% improvement on Clean Air particulate emissions, with some achieving as much as 70% improvement.
• The actual PM contribution of modern wood-burning stoves is estimated by the UK government’s official figures at just 1-2%.
• A modern stove will use less than a third of the amount of wood compared to an open fire to provide the same heat output.
• 70% of wood burnt in London is done so on open fires – this is inefficient and an offence in smoke control areas.
It is positive to see industry robustly challenging these misleading claims in recent weeks and we must do all we can to promote responsible burning.

The HETAS team continues to work hard to represent industry at government level, putting the case forward for the future of wood burning as well as challenging directly with lobbyists and local authorities where misinformation has been published.

No ban on stoves 

The Environmental Improvement Plan clearly states that the government isnot considering a ban on domestic burning in England and it recognises that some households are reliant on solid fuel burning for heating, hot water and cooking. Additionally, a ban on domestic outdoor burning would be considered disproportionate, however improvements are being considered in reducing impacts that solid fuel burning has on air quality.

The Environmental Improvement Plan outlines further measures relating to clean air and emissions from the home. This includes proposals to tighten the limits that fuels in Smoke Control Areas must meet, reducing the limit from 5g of smoke per hour to a maximum of 3g. Did you know, the HETAS Cleaner Choice scheme which certifies hundreds of stoves, has an emissions limit that already exceeds the EIP proposed limits.

The Office for Environmental Protection, through its annual progress report 2022/23, calls on government to “implement the Environment Improvement Plan 2023 effectively, taking bold, prompt action where it is most needed” as well as how they will “develop and implement delivery plans”