Impact of the Clean Air Act 2019

In an effort to tackle air pollution, the UK government published its Clean Air Strategy 2019 this January. The document itself is a lengthy pledge to reduce the percentage of airborne pollutants across a variety of sectors by 2020 and 2030. It was inspired by recommendations made by the World Health Organisation and states that air pollution poses one of the greatest current risks to public health, as well as being extremely detrimental to the environment and, by extension, the economy.

Since the Clean Air Strategy 2019 was published, there have been a lot of misconceptions about what the new regulatory framework will mean for those wanting to burn open fires or heat their homes with woodburning stoves. Some media outlets have helped to create the impression that all open fires and stoves will be banned in the coming years. However, this is not the case. The government has absolutely no intention of banning the public from burning wood as part of its new air pollution strategy. It merely wants to restrict the types of fuel used in such situations to reduce the percentage of pollutants in our atmosphere.

According to a BBC report, pollution caused by wood or coal burned in the home contributes over twice as many harmful participates as industrial combustion and three times the volume caused by road transport. It is this excess that the new measures aim to curtail.

As part of the government initiative, only the sale of environmentally sound stoves will be permitted and clean fuel with a moisture content of less than 20 per cent must be burned. There will also be a greater drive to make sure people are only burning smokeless coal and low sulphur fuels.

The Clean Air Strategy identifies sulphur dioxide from coal as being one of the biggest threats to health associated with air pollution. It cites the London smog of 1952, attributing between 8,000 and 12,000 fatalities to the quantity of the pollutant in the metropolis. Whilst the regulations effect on the general fire-burning public will be minimal, the measures will certainly impact the sale of firewood from vendors such as petrol stations – renowned for flogging sacks of damp wood all year round. Instead, those wishing to buy firewood should head to a reputable supplier such as Carnethy Woodfuel for their fuel needs.

Therese Coffey, the UK’s Environment Minister, stated of the strategy prior to the publication of the Clean Air Strategy 2019: “While we will never be able to eliminate all particulate matter, by switching to cleaner fuels, householders can reduce the amount of harmful pollution to which they unwittingly expose themselves, their families and the environment, while still enjoying the warmth and pleasure of a fire.”

Get Ahead of the Game Now

There are loads of things you can do today to get yourself ready for the regulations detailed in the Clean Air Strategy 2019. Follow the guidelines below and the good habits you pick up will make the eventual transition an absolute breeze!

Use Ready-to-Burn Fuel from a Reputable Supplier

Always source your wood from a trusted supplier of firewood. As tempting as it might be to break down that old couch or bookshelf and save a few quid, you will be running foul of Clean Air Strategy regulations by doing so. It should go without saying that plastics should be avoided too. New regulations aside, who would want to sit breathing plastic fumes in their living room!?

Store Your Wood Correctly

It’s no good buying all that beautiful dry, regulatory-compliant wood if you’re not going to store it correctly. The best way to keep your wood in the best, ready-to-burn condition possible is by using a purpose-built log store. Such constructions range from the ultra-compact at £100 or less, right through to the most extravagant and grandiose, costing thousands. Which you go for will ultimately depend on the amount of wood you want to store, your budget, and the space limitations of your property. Of course, if you’re handy in the tool shed, you can always knock one up yourself too.

A great resource for those looking to buy a log store to keep their wood dry year-round is WhatShed. Check out their detailed listings and reviews here

Sweep Your Chimney

Sweeping your chimney at least once a year will prevent the build up of particulates that can contribute to air pollution and, in more extreme situations, chimney fires. Contact a qualified chimney sweep. They’ll not get rid of all that nasty build up but will likely give you other pointers on how to reduce your environmental impact when using your wood burner too.

So, I Can Definitely Still Use My Stove, Right?

Yes, of course you can! You just need to make sure that the wood you burn in it is untreated and has less than 20 per cent moisture content and we all know, this burns best anyway! That said, if you were planning on buying a new wood burning stove, make sure it meets the minimum environmental requirements. The Department of Environmental and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the Stove Industry Alliance recommends using SIA Eco design Ready stoves, which are certainly exempt from the regulatory measures. 

What About My Open Indoor Fire?

The government has not commented specifically on open fires. However, DEFRA does acknowledge that they produce much more smoke than an efficient, modern wood burning stove. Until further word is given in relation to open fires, the applicable guidelines above should be followed.

The above information has been prepared by WhatShed who specialise in sheds and garden buildings. If you are looking to purchase a log shed then we would recommend having a look here