Bruce Allen’s Insight | February 2020

Bruce Allen, HETAS CEO

As we head towards the end of the heating season, we are pleased to have received an announcement from Defra in response to the consultation on the cleaner domestic burning of solid fuels and wood between August to October 2018. The response from Defra proposes some key changes to the sale of wet wood in quantities under 2m3, coal and smokeless fuels. This newsletter looks in depth at the proposed changes. The response from industry has been largely positive as we all continue to play our part in improving air quality and reducing air pollution. The finer details of the proposals will come out in legislation due over the coming months and we will share details on this as soon as we have them.

HETAS has been working hard over many years to see developments in legislation relating to appliances and fuels. We have been in discussions with Defra for some time along with the devolved governments. The announcement on Friday relates specifically to England, Welsh government is currently consulting on it’s Clean Air Plan (open until 10th March). The Scottish government is due to consult on a draft revised air quality strategy later this year, following a review that included recommendations on domestic wood burning stoves back in 2019.

Specifically looking at the Welsh Clean Air Plan, a Task and Finish group of key stakeholders was established in February 2019. The group includes industry, fuel suppliers, PHW, Healthy Air Cymru, Local authorities and organisations such as HETAS and Woodsure to consider all available evidence and develop a comprehensive package of interventions. We do encourage all our registrants to contribute to consultations.

As plans develop in Scotland, we will continue our engagement with the relevant organisations to represent our industry.

We fully support a holistic approach to improving air quality; from appliance selection, fuel, service and maintenance (including sweeping) and education for the user. We have a range of advice leaflets on the website along with some online articles, such as guidance on slumbering.

We have seen a huge increase in traffic across our websites since the announcement on Friday, with one website receiving two months’ worth of traffic on Friday morning. We have been positioning articles across our website for a number of years to provide industry and consumers with fact-based information. Our ‘ban on wood stoves’ article, guidance on the ‘Clean Air Strategy’ are ranked well on search engines. We have also seen a big increase in searches for installers, chimney sweeps and retailers as we continue to promote our registrants services to consumers. The recently published scientific review has provided a strong foundation for industry to counter the misleading information presented in the media. We have shared the review with UK governments, Local Authorities and press.

With developments in our industry happening at some pace, we have made some revisions to our chimney sweeps scheme, making it simpler to join both the sweep and servicing scheme. We will be at the Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps exhibition this weekend and the team will be happy to discuss routes to registration with HETAS. This newsletter outlines some of the changes to the scheme.

Also in the newsletter this month: