Bruce Allen’s Insight | February 2023

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

Last month I wrote that we were anticipating the publication of their emissions of air pollutants. This has now been published alongside the governments Environment Improvement Plan 2023. Importantly, The Environment Improvement Plan clearly states that the government is not considering a ban on domestic burning in England and it recognises that some households are reliant on solid fuel burning for heating, hot water and cooking. Additionally, a ban on domestic outdoor burning would be considered disproportionate. 

Looking specifically at the emissions of air pollutants, the publication released from Defra has highlighted an increase in burning wood for fuel by 124 per cent between 2011 and 2021, and a decrease in use of coal for domestic heating. The report also highlights emissions of particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5) originate from a wide range of sources covering domestic activity, industrial activity, power generation, transport and agriculture. Acknowledging the report, we push forward in continuing to help improve the UK’s air quality. With measures already in place such as public education, Cleaner Choice, regular advice around maintenance and schemes such as ‘Ready to Burn’, we are confident that as an organisation the next report can only continue to be positive as we work hard to educate and improve on the way the UK chooses to burn.  

Our concern though is that a portion of this good work could now be undone. While domestic burning is only part of the air pollutants problem, last year we saw an unprecedented demand for solid fuel as more people turned to it as a less expensive way to keep their homes warm. It is also worth recognising that air quality is a global issue and it is in the interest of the UK to identify and reduce anthropogenic emissions (such as wood burning, and tyre and brake wear from vehicles) where possible. Defra’s report identifies that both PM and precursor pollutants that can form it can travel large distances in the atmosphere. A small proportion of the concentrations of PM that people in the UK are exposed to come from naturally occurring sources such as pollen and sea spray (approximately 15 per cent). Another third is transported to the UK from other European countries. 

We continue to engage with government, Local Authorities, press and consumers to put across the case for safe and effective use of solid fuels and biomass. The HETAS consumer newsletter has a growing audience of tens of thousands of stove users and is a useful tool for HETAS to contact stove users directly with factual information. In addition to The Environment Improvement Plan stating that the government is not considering a ban on domestic burning in England, anecdotal evidence shows there is still support for wood burning, provided it is done in a responsible way. In February, The Times ran a simple online survey, with over 16,000 votes, the survey suggested that 83% of the respondents didn’t support a ban. Other such surveys have provided similar results. 

Our ‘Book a Sweep’ campaign continues and February has once again seen strong website sessions. Moving into March we will also move to supporting Defra’s Burn Better campaign, which will run for a short time towards the end of the heating season.  

The HETAS biomass maintenance scheme has also been running for some time now and we are almost reaching the first anniversary of our notifications. It is imperative that notifications are submitted as soon as possible after the activity to ensure RHI recipients can provide evidence. The HETAS notification portal for HETAS Approved Biomass Maintenance Scheme (HABMS) businesses is live, allowing you to notify maintenance activities to HETAS. From 1st April Ofgem will require evidence from non-domestic RHI recipients of their maintenance work. 

In this newsletter, we cover the government publications in more detail, along with other useful updates. Look out in March for the first HETAS Technical Bulletin of 2023 and remember our technical team is on hand to support you with any technical enquiries you may have. 

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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