Bruce Allen’s Insight | April 2023 

Welcome to my insight to the April 2023 HETAS monthly newsletter.

As we head towards May, we are still seeing a busy sector as the energy crisis continues and people adapt to the end of funding support for gas and electricity bills. It is clear that consumers are seeing stoves and biomass boilers as a suitable alternative to grid heating.  

In recent months we have seen real progress from government on their plans over the coming years. Initially we saw the publication of the Environment Improvement Plan (EIP) followed up more recently with the draft air quality strategy, a document that sets a framework to enable local authorities to deliver for their communities and contribute to the government’s long-term air quality goals, including ambitious new targets for fine particulate matter, also known as PM2.5. The short turnaround in the consultation period for this draft document and government’s intention to publish the final document this year identifies a real appetite for moving the strategy forward to reality. 

We have also seen progress in recent months with Welsh clean air plans and will meet with the Cleaner Air for Scotland 2 (CAFS2) domestic burning working group next month. It’ll be some time before we see legislation come into force, but will continue to provide support and insights to our registered businesses as information becomes available. 

When looking at the EIP, the government has set two ambitious, legally-binding targets to reduce concentrations of PM2.5 for England 

  • an annual mean concentration target for PM2.5 of 10 μg/m3 across England by 2040 
  • a population exposure reduction target of 35% by 2040 compared to a 2018 baseline. 

The Environmental Improvement Plan has additional interim targets to reach 12 μg/m3 annual mean concentration of PM2.5 and reduce average population exposure to PM2.5 by 22%, by January 2028, compared to a 2018 baseline. 

These targets will be legally binding and of course Defra is already working towards plans to cut emissions. HETAS and Woodsure are promoting the use of Ready to Burn fuels along with the best appliances, competent and safe installation by HETAS Registered Installers and maintenance by HETAS registered chimney sweeps and servicing providers. This is further supported by the homeowner using their appliance in most efficient way possible and in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Defra see communications as a key route to educating stove users. Recently we have supported the Burn Better campaign in addition to our own marketing and we’ve added a range of updated and new guidance to the HETAS Advice Hub. March and April have both seen positive website sessions when compared to previous years. 

Appliance choice is really important and whilst not all locations require Defra exempt appliances to be used, we are strongly promoting such appliances and for those who want to take an extra step towards reduced environmental impact we have the Cleaner Choice stove and appliance scheme which only lists appliances that emit 50% fewer particulates than the most robust legal requirements. 

HETAS will continue to engage directly with Local Authorities across the UK, from Building Control, Environmental Health through to Trading Standards, with each playing a vital role in supporting the work we do. HETAS sends regular updates and communications to our LA database of over 2,000 contacts, with support from Defra providing additional information. 

Defra is showing its determination to support innovation by running a competition to fund innovation on the domestic burning sector, with millions of pounds of funding available for innovative projects. Innovate UK has launched a new clean air innovation competition, funded by Defra. The aim of the competition is to support the development of products or services that can help to reduce the volume of harmful pollutants entering the atmosphere as a result of domestic burning or agricultural practices.  

In phase 1 of the competition organisations can apply for a share of £2 million, inclusive of VAT. Contracts awarded will be up to £60,000, inclusive of VAT, for each project up to 3 months in duration. The potential Phase 2 involves up to 6 contracts being awarded to organisations chosen from the successful phase 1 applicants. Up to £315,000 inclusive of VAT will be allocated for each contract, to develop a prototype and undertake field testing for up to 10 months.  

The competition is open for applications now until 11am on 24th May. You can find out more on the gov website. 

Coming up we also see the final piece of The Air Quality (Domestic Solid Fuels Standards) (England) Regulations 2020 coming into force, with all sales of traditional house coal being banned in England from 1 May 2023.  

As the HETAS biomass maintenance scheme moves to becoming established and Ofgem undertakes checks with participants we are making some changes to the scheme and removing the ability to backdate notifications of maintenance activities, starting on the 1st May. Business will be required to meet our existing terms and conditions to notify work within 10 working days of the maintenance completion date. 

The HETAS team will continue to provide our usual support to you all, don’t forget for technical advice you can contact the team during working hours (phone or email) and our registration team can support with your training and business requirements. We have a few bank holidays coming up in May, I hope you get a chance to take a break. As someone who used to be on the tools, I know how it can be difficult to step away from work, but it’s really important you find time to do so. It’s also Mental Health Awareness Week in May with a focus on anxiety. Please take time to look after yourself and make use of the resources available. For more information on mental health visit the Mental Health Foundation’s website.

Login to the HETAS Technical Hub to access a range of resources including, Technical Bulletins and to notify your installations, also read the latest news on the HETAS website.


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