Wood burners: Sale of coal and wet wood now restricted

Curbs on the sale of house coal and wet wood for household burning in England have come into force under new rules aimed at cutting air pollution.

People will still be able to use stoves and open fires but they will need to burn cleaner alternatives.

These are the first restrictions on what people can burn in their homes since the clean air acts of the 1950s.

The UK’s air is far cleaner now, but in recent years pollution from log burners has increased dramatically.

Only 8% of households use them, but they are now the biggest source of the tiny pollution particles that are most damaging to health.

It shows domestic wood burning in both closed stoves and open fires was responsible for 38% of pollution particles under 2.5 microns in size, three times more than road traffic.

These tiny particles can enter the bloodstream and lodge in lungs and other organs, the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) warns, and have been identified by the World Health Organization as the most serious air pollutant for human health.

Log burners and open fires are not being banned, but the government says people will have to buy dry wood or manufactured solid fuels which produce less smoke.

It says both options are just as easy to source and more efficient to burn, making them much cleaner and more cost-effective.

Defra claims burning dry wood produces more heat and less soot than wet wood and can reduce emissions by up to 50%.

What is wet and dry firewood?

Wet – also known as green or unseasoned wood – is often sold in nets and is cheaper to buy.

It contains moisture which, when burned, creates more smoke and harmful particles of air pollution (PM2.5) than dry wood.

Wet wood can also damage chimneys much more, by allowing tar and soot to build up.

Dry or seasoned wood – which has been dried out, often in a kiln – has a moisture content of 20% or less.

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