Sales of house coal and wet wood to be banned

Sales of house coal and wet wood to be banned

Sales of house coal and wet wood in England will be phased out from next year to cut pollution, according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Plans to phase out the sale of coal and wet wood for domestic burning and encourage the use of cleaner fuels in the home have been confirmed by the government today (21 February).

Wood burning stoves and coal fires are the single largest source of the pollutant ‘PM2.5’, emitting twice the contribution of industrial combustion and three times the contribution of road transport. This form of pollution consists of tiny particles which penetrate deeply into our body, including lungs and blood, and has been identified by the World Health Organisation as the most serious air pollutant for human health.

To help improve the air we breathe and ensure householders choose cleaner fuels, sales of coal and wet wood – the two most polluting fuels – will be phased out between 2021 and 2023, giving the public and suppliers time to move to cleaner alternatives such as dry wood and manufactured solid fuels.

This means that wood must have a moisture content of 20% or less to be considered dry.

Today’s announcement builds on measures in the Environment Bill which will make it easier for local authorities to tackle air pollution in their areas, as well as the government’s £3.5 billion plan to reduce harmful emissions from transport, and efforts to reduce emissions from industry.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said:

“Cosy open fires and wood-burning stoves are at the heart of many homes up and down the country, but the use of certain fuels means that they are also the biggest source of the most harmful pollutant that is affecting people in the UK. By moving towards the use of cleaner fuels such as dry wood we can all play a part in improving the health of millions of people.

“This is the latest step in delivering on the challenge we set ourselves in our world-leading Clean Air Strategy. We will continue to be ambitious and innovative in tackling air pollution from all sources as we work towards our goal to halve the harm to human health from air pollution by 2030.”

Sales of all bagged traditional house coal will be phased out by February 2021, and the sale of loose coal direct to customers via approved coal merchants by February 2023. This will give industry, suppliers and households the time to adapt to the new rules.

Multiple studies have shown that long term exposure to PM2.5 can cause:

  • Lung cancer
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Strokes
  • Asthma

These regulations will apply in England only.

The full Government response to the consultation is available here.

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