Bruce Allen’s Insight | February 2021

As March approaches we are starting to see a shift to warmer weather and over the coming months we hope to see further positive news on the easing of lockdown measures enabling stove retailers to open their doors to welcome customers once again. 

There has been some press coverage in recent months on wood and solid fuel burning. Across industry, we continue to work hard to challenge the information being presented in the press. Recent attention has focused on the National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory which presents domestic burning as being the largest source of PM2.5 pollution. This takes us back to our scientific work from 2019 which addressed the information provided in the report and how the domestic burning figures are not an accurate portrayal of what is actually happening in the real world. The information provided in the NAEI report does evidence that there are challenges in reporting accurate data and that Defra is undertaking further work to address these challenges. We welcome the work from Defra and look forward to sharing more on this in the future. Read more about this topic in the newsletter article.

We all know that there are measures stove users can take to help reduce the particulates they emit when burning, from choosing Ecodesign Compliant stoves and boilers, using the right fuels, correct appliance use and regular sweeping and servicing. Defra’s burn better campaign has been timely and given us all a platform to share positive messages on doing things the right way. We have been working hard across various media outlets to share this positive message. A sponsored video on Facebook has had over 150,000 views and there has been some excellent partnership coverage for HETAS and the burn better campaign, working with Hearst through some of their major UK magazines, Good Housekeeping, Country Living and House Beautiful. This has resulted in an upturn in traffic to the HETAS website. Again for February, we’ve seen an increase in website sessions and visits across our installer, sweep and servicing postcode searches. 

You will all no doubt know that legislation is coming. From the 1st May, firewood suppliers selling in quantities under 2m3 will be required to hold the Ready to Burn mark on their products. Small foresters, those supplying less than 600m3 have an additional year to comply and Woodsure is working with a range of stakeholders on opportunities such as group schemes. For manufactured solid fuels, which is any solid fuel made from coal, wood, plant-derived materials, waxes or petroleum products, mixed with other ingredients, Ready to Burn comes into force on 1st May 2021. Such fuels must contain less than 2% sulphur (by dry ash weight with a 95% confidence limit) and have an average smoke emission rate of less than 5 grams per hour when tested to the standard testing method of BS 3841.

If you are working with a fuel supplier, check to see if they either have certification or have made an application to join. Links to applications for both manufactured solid fuels and firewood are available in this month’s newsletter, with additional guidance on the schemes also provided on the gov.uk website. Our support teams are on hand to assist in the application and audit processes to help people achieve Ready to Burn certification. 

This month, we also had our annual UKAS audit. This year, it’s a reassessment and a bigger audit than usual, and the team from UKAS spent three days with our teams, verifying our work across our competent person scheme along with our Microgeneration Certification schemes for installers and products. It is important that we hold ourselves up to high standards of work and this external audit is the ultimate demonstration that we do things in the right way. It is also thanks to you, our registrants, for helping us to achieve this, from keeping your training up to date, to timely inspections of your installations. It has been a challenging year, but we have continued to undertake inspections in a COVID safe way and have adapted to the challenges posed. Thank you all for your ongoing registration and support, it is very much appreciated.