Bruce Allen’s Insight | February 2024 

Welcome to my insight to the February 2024 HETAS monthly newsletter.

As we head towards spring, we find ourselves focusing on warmer weather, but keeping busy amidst a cold snap at the end of another busy heating season. In recent weeks we have communicated the most recent data from Defra on emissions of air pollutants in the UK, with the publication containing statistics on annual emissions for the period 1970 to 2022. The annual publication provides estimates of UK emissions of particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5), nitrogen oxides, ammonia, non-methane volatile organic compounds, and sulphur dioxide. These statistics are used to monitor progress against the UK’s emission reduction commitments (ERC) for air pollutants. 

There is always a great deal of data that can be presented in different ways by different organisations in making the case for or against different sources of emissions. Overall, the following information is particularly relevant to our industry: 

  • Annual emissions of PM2.5 have decreased by 88% since 1970, with an estimated 65 thousand tonnes of PM2.5 emitted in 2022 – a 2% decrease from 2021.  
  • Annual emissions of PM10 have decreased by 88% since 1970, with an estimated 127 thousand tonnes of PM10 emitted in 2022 – a 1% increase from 2021.  
  • Particulate emissions from ‘domestic combustion’ fell between 2021 and 2022; there was a 3.9% reduction in PM10 and a 4% reduction in PM2.5, with the latest data showing that PM2.5 emissions from the domestic use of wood fuel specifically fell by 2.7%. 

When it comes to improving air quality, there is no immediate fixes or silver bullets. HETAS has been involved with air quality discussions at government level for many years and the measures that have been put in place are helping people to make cleaner choices and burn better. As we continue to identify, The Environmental Improvement Plan 2023 (EIP23) clearly states that government is not considering a ban on domestic burning in England; government recognises that many households across the country are reliant on solid fuel burning for heating, hot water, and cooking. Additionally, a ban on domestic outdoor burning is considered disproportionate. 

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 tyre and brake wear from transport and domestic burning) where possible. Defra’s report identifies that both particulate matter (PM) and its precursor pollutants are capable of travelling large distances in the atmosphere. Ambient PM2.5 in England has complex and varied origins; approximately one-third originates from transboundary sources (such as airflow from Europe and global shipping), and approximately 15 percent stems from naturally occurring processes such as pollen and sea spray. Emissions originating from all areas must be minimised and it is important that we acknowledge the part our industry must play in this mission. 

The Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) recently published their progress report of government’s stated ambitions and goals for the environment, relating to the 25 Year Environment Plan and the EIP23. To summarise, the report states that government is at risk; the current pace and scale of action is not enough to drive necessary progress and more must be done to meet targets and prevent irreversible damage to the natural environment. The OEP conclude in their report that the EIP23 requires well-planned delivery to accomplish its targets, the current pace is insufficient, and significant progress is vital to prevent irreversible damage to the natural environment. 

We have put together a comprehensive article which discusses and summarises information from the OEP’s report that is relevant to HETAS and the wood burning industry, exploring the suggestions that the OEP is urging government to implement. This article highlights the role of HETAS, exploring existing measures we have taken and how we can further work to facilitate meaningful, positive change. 

As an industry, this progress report highlights the importance of maintaining good practices and supporting consumers. Keeping up to date on the latest regulations and following good installation standards demonstrates your commitment to providing a quality service, providing a safe installation. Equally, advising your customers on the most efficient stoves (such as Cleaner Choice certified appliances), good burning habits, and the correct fuel to burn is crucial to ensure your installations are being utilised responsibly and efficiently. We all have a role to play, and we will continue to see positive progress if we all play our part. 

It is important for the work that we do as an industry to be held up to scrutiny. As an independent organisation, HETAS is uniquely placed as a certification body to represent our industry. We will continue to best represent industry on issues including carbon reduction, air quality, and of course safety. Next month we undertake our annual United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) audit. Just like we assess our registrants, each year we are audited by the UKAS, who exist to ensure we are competent to perform our certification role for the various schemes we provide. 

We are continuing to shine the spotlight on Cleaner Choice manufacturers, with this month’s feature taking a trip to South Wales to speak with Marc from Island Pellet Stoves. The article is a great introduction to the products available and the features that Island Pellet Stoves offer. 

On the same topic, the Cleaner Choice scheme has continued to expand, and I am pleased to welcome a range of Chesneys appliances to the scheme. The addition of nine new appliances from Chesneys demonstrates how more manufacturers are actively engaging with reports and committing to minimising emissions. 

Looking ahead to June, the team are excited to return to the NEC in Birmingham for InstallerSHOW. The exhibition is getting bigger year-on-year, with over 600 exhibitors and 50% extra floor space. The HETAS team are looking forward to meeting even more registrants as we exhibit again this year. 

As always, get in touch if you have any questions, the team will be happy to help.

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