Bruce Allen’s Insight | March 2021

As we approach April, everyone has a long weekend to look forward to, along with an easing of lockdown measures. It’s been a challenging year for us all and there are signs that things are improving week by week so we remain optimistic that we can follow the roadmap out of lockdown. HSE has issued a timely reminder on keeping workplaces safe as restrictions are eased and covers the government’s roadmap out of lockdown along with advice on returning to the workplace safely.

HETAS CEO Bruce Allen

In little over a month The Air Quality (Domestic Solid Fuels Standards) (England) Regulations 2020 come into force. These important regulations are just one of the steps that government is taking to tackle air quality, with The Environment Bill being a key driver to a number of other changes, including the following: 

  • creating a new governance framework for the environment
  • a new direction for resources and waste management
  • improving air quality
  • securing our water services
  • enhancing our green spaces
  • updating laws on chemicals (REACH)

The Environment Bill  was originally anticipated as passing into law in the summer of 2020 but is now likely to receive Royal Assent in Autumn 2021 with a two-year transition period envisaged, meaning formal implementation in Autumn 2023. In this respect, it is pleasing to see legislation on fuels implemented and taking effect very soon.

The new environmental watchdog for England, to be known as the Office for Environmental Protection, will be launched on an interim basis ahead of its formal establishment as part of the Environment Bill, under plans set out today. From July, the new Interim Office for Environmental Protection will be set up in a non-statutory form to provide independent oversight of the government’s environmental progress and to accelerate the foundation of the full body.

We will of course keep you all updated on policy changes over the coming months and years.

We are now seeing hundreds of businesses applying to join the Ready to Burn firewood scheme ahead of 1st May. It is worth speaking to your firewood supplier to check they are making plans to sign up for the scheme. As a reminder, the 1st May deadline applies to suppliers producing over 600m3 annually and selling in quantities under 2m3. For sales over 2m3, guidance on drying must be provided.

For small-scale wood producers who supplied less than 600 cubic metres of wood between 1 May 2020 and 30 April 2021, they have until 1 May 2022 to comply with the new Ready to Burn certification scheme. The statutory guidance can be viewed here.

Manufacturers of solid fuel have also been making adjustments to their product lines and making applications to HETAS ahead of the 1st May deadline.

Wales and Scotland continue their consultations on air quality and domestic combustion. The current White Paper on a Clean Air (Wales) Bill closes in early April.

Stay tuned to our newsletter and Bulletins for updates on progress.

Four times a year, we produce Technical Bulletins, full of up to date guidance to help get things right the first time. HETAS Technical Bulletin 21 should be with you imminently and is once again a well thought out piece of work full of technical guidance. The team is here to help you along the way and we are proud to offer such support to our registered installers, chimney sweep, servicing technicians and retailers. Please do make contact with the team if you have technical issues or need something clarified, the helpline of Stephen, Oliver and Kevin will be happy to speak to you and can call upon the support of the wider technical team for questions on standards, fuels or appliances. Get in touch on 01684 278170, option 1 or email techincal@hetas.co.uk

Finally, as lockdown measures are eased across the country, we hope to see many of you with retail premises able to open your doors for customers once again. For England and Wales we anticipate the 12th April to be the date for non-essential retail to open and for Scotland the 26th April. Look out for our social media campaign in support of retailers opening over the coming weeks.

This newsletter outlines some of the funding available for retailers as we follow the roadmap out of lockdown, primarily the Restart Grants. We also have information from Poujoulat who have teamed up with Kickstart Jobs UK with an exciting proposition in support of the solid fuel market in the UK.

As always, please let us know your thoughts on our newsletters and Bulletins. Contact us on hello@hetas.co.uk or you’ll find the team across social media too, myself included from time to time!