Bruce Allen’s Insight | December 2023 

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

As the curtain falls on 2023, I’d like to extend a heartfelt thank you for being part of the HETAS community. Looking back on an extremely busy year, I am thankful for your ongoing diligence, professionalism, and passion for the industry in which we all work. 

In our role as an industry-leading certification body, we are passionate about ensuring our industry as a whole can meaningfully participate in reducing our environmental impact. You will have no doubt seen many of the headlines from Cop28 where issues surrounding net zero and air quality were discussed, and there was a commitment for a global transition away from fossil fuels. Renewables have a vital role in this transition and the recently published Biomass Strategy supports this belief. This publication sets out steps government intends to take to strengthen biomass sustainability and displays the opportunities for the use of sustainable biomass across multiple sectors of the economy, aiming to achieve the UK’s net zero target. 

HETAS and its sister company Woodsure have a crucial role to play as certification bodies in the solid fuel and biomass sectors. Certification organisations are independent third parties that handle a certification process, enabling trust to be established in products and services delivered under their brand. HETAS provides certification for people, businesses, and products, imparting a level of trust to consumers and public bodies that these services and products meet required standards. The HETAS brand is well-established and recognised as the go-to mark for products and services in the solid fuel and biomass sector, and HETAS prides itself on the quality certification it provides, rooted in its team of experts. 

In 2023 the HETAS website has once again had a record-breaking number of sessions, with over 850,000 sessions to date. Site searches have continued to grow in popularity and, since its launch in 2022, we have seen an increasing number of people visiting the Consumer Advice Hub. The Consumer Advice Hub contains a range of advice and top tips, promoting responsible burning and appliance usage in an easily searchable and intelligible way. You’ll also have seen many of these articles and tips shared on our social channels as we continue to promote cleaner and safer practices. 

Defra have brought an updated look to their Burn Better, Breathe Better campaign, aiming to reduce the environmental risk and improve public health. We have been working with the Defra domestic burning team recently, discussing how the industry view the campaign and receiving constructive feedback. The Burn Better, Breathe Better campaign website identifies key steps that stove and open fire users can take to burn better for the environment, their community, and their health. Three core points underpin the campaign: Check it | Sweep it | Feed it. It is important not to confuse Defra’s official campaign with campaigns being led by local authorities that have Defra Local Authority funding through the air quality grant scheme; Defra is promoting responsible burning. The majority of the sector, like us, support the need for environmentally responsible burning. 

At a local authority level, we are still seeing very limited enforcement to challenge those who are not following regulations by burning irresponsibly and having a negative impact on air quality. We regularly discuss this matter with Defra at contract meetings and a communication plan with local authorities has been initiated as a result. It has been reported that of all the reports to local authorities, only a third of concerns raised regarding improper domestic burning are followed up, with a limited number of those resulting in action being taken. 

Poor burning habits can have a damaging impact on local communities; it is important that there is an understanding of the source of the pollution. The negative impact of unregulated outdoor burning and open fires is well documented. Appliances that exceed Defra exemption and Ecodesign requirements enable much more responsible and safe burning, preventing damaging impacts on local communities. Defra is looking to move forward with plans outlined in the Environment Improvement Plan and will be launching a new consultation in the new year, with a Defra spokesperson stating: 

We also remain committed to cutting the emissions limit of wood burning stoves to 3g an hour – with a consultation to be launched next year”.

With this in mind, we can expect further developments at government level when it comes to domestic burning. Our summary of the Environmental Improvement Plan from earlier this year highlighted some of the key changes we can expect to see in the future, such as cleaner air and mitigating and adapting to climate change. We can also expect to see progress in Scotland and Wales as they further their own clean air strategies.  

We have seen the Environment (Air Quality and Soundscapes) (Wales) bill pass through the Senedd in Wales recently. The Bill implements measures that contribute to improvements in the quality of the air environment in Wales and reduce the impacts of air pollution on human health, biodiversity, the natural environment, and our economy. The Bill further supports delivery of a crucial package of measures set out in the Clean Air Plan for Wales, aiming to improve the air environment in Wales. 

We are continuing to meet with the Scottish Government and look forward to developing their policies and strategies to improve air quality. 

Alongside this newsletter, we have just published our final Technical Bullet of 2023. Bulletin 32 is now available in the HETAS Technical Hub, along with previous editions. We will continue making developments to the Technical Hub throughout 2024 and we welcome your views on how we can continue to assist you. 

With the Christmas break just around the corner, all of us at HETAS wanted to wish you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Our office will be closing at midday on Friday 22nd December and will be reopening at 8:30am on Tuesday 2nd January 2024. You can still access the HETAS Technical Hub and notify your installations online throughout the Christmas period, so please ensure you are stocked up with online credits. You can also still contact us over the festive break, and we will get back to you as soon as possible. 

On behalf of the whole team here at HETAS, have a festive Christmas and a wonderful New Year. 

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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