DEFRA lays draft law to prohibit the sale of high emission wood and coal in England

The NBTA has been informed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) that the draft Statutory Instrument, the Air Quality (Domestic Solid Fuels Standards) (England) Regulations 2020, was laid in both Houses of Parliament on 21st July 2020. This follows the 2018 consultation by DEFRA on the cleaner domestic burning of solid fuels and wood, which the NBTA responded to.  The proposed Regulations aim to prevent the sale of wet wood and house coal. The Regulations will not prohibit the burning of wet wood and house coal. They will not prohibit the installation or use of solid fuel stoves, and they will not prevent people from burning fallen wood that they collect from around the countryside, or salvage from building sites, or are given free of charge.

However if you burn wood or house coal in your boat a Smoke Control Zone, you may in some cases be committing an offence under the Clean Air Acts. See http://www.bargee-traveller.org.uk/current-smoke-control-law-and-boats/

The draft Regulations prohibiting the sale of wet wood and house coal are online here. https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukdsi/2020/9780348210194/contents

The draft Regulations state that they will come into force on 1st May 2021. The legislation will need to be debated in both Houses of Parliament before it comes into force and the dates for these debates have not yet been confirmed. The draft Regulations apply to England, but the NBTA expects to see similar legislation coming into effect in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland in due course.

DEFRA says:

“The Regulations will phase out the supply of house coal for domestic combustion and wet wood sold in units of up to 2m³; and will introduce sulphur and smoke emission limits for manufactured solid fuels. These changes will be phased in between 2021 and 2023, with all sales of small volumes of wet wood being phased out by 2022 and sales of traditional house coal by 2023.

We are not banning stoves or open fireplaces, and these policies do not seek to prevent their use or installation. Our intention is to ensure people move from burning more polluting to less polluting fuels. We are encouraging a move from burning wet wood to burning dry wood, and from traditional house coal to smokeless coal and low sulphur manufactured solid fuels.

We understand that those who burn coal as a primary heat source are most likely to have their coal delivered by approved coal merchants and will need additional time to switch to an alternative fuel. This is why we are providing an extended transition period for those who burn coal. Sales of all bagged traditional house coal will be phased out by 1st May 2021, and the sale of loose coal direct to customers via approved coal merchants by 1st May 2023.

The requirement for wood sold in volumes under 2m³ to be dry (less than 20% moisture) will apply from 1st May 2021. We recognise that small wood producers may struggle to meet the requirements straight away. Given this, small suppliers will have an extra year to comply (until 1st May 2022)”.

See https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/air-quality-using-cleaner-fuels-for-domestic-burning/outcome/summary-of-responses-and-government-response