Bruce Allen’s Insight | September 2023 

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

We have seen a mild start to September, but those colder nights and people turning their heating on. I hope you are all ready for a busy heating season ahead. It’s been a busy month on the political front, you will have no doubt seen the headlines with PM Rishi Sunak announcing plans to weaken some of the government’s green commitments. In amongst the announcement were suggestions that he intended to push back the deadlines for phasing out petrol and diesel cars, along with gas boilers. The UK has already been criticised by The Climate Change Committee (CCC) for falling behind in its efforts to reach “net zero” by 2050, a key international target intended to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. The report, outlined in our July newsletter, called on the government to stay firm on existing commitments and move to delivery, but recent announcements appear to be contrary to the report, with a more short-term focus on supporting householders during the cost-of-living crisis.

Having said that, the government’s commitment to reach net zero by 2050 remains in place and the Prime Minister said the UK remains committed to meeting international climate targets including those in the Paris Agreement. Government is now talking about a “new approach” to achieving net zero. The recently published Biomass Strategy (published in August and summarised here) highlighted the important role biomass has to play in supporting net zero targets, along with the development of carbon capture and storage.

At the same time, the Mayor of London has come under intense scrutiny over the expansion of the ULEZ. Air quality remains a key agenda item in government, but there are clear challenges with aligning policy on net zero, air quality, and home safety standards, all thrown into the mix with a cost-of-living crisis.

What does this mean for our industry? Regulation in our sector has evolved greatly in recent years, with the introduction of The Air Quality (Domestic Solid Fuels Standards) (England) Regulations 2020, Ecodesign and The Environmental Improvement Plan 2023. Local Authorities are also reviewing their existing Smoke Control Areas (SCA); Reading being the latest to consider expansion of their SCA. It is likely we will see similar legislation to that in England enacted in Scotland and Wales over the coming years.

As part of our ongoing work with the Scottish government, HETAS forms part of their CAFS domestic burning working group. Their plans are ongoing and include the following: 

  • A research project led by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) commenced in April 2022 and scheduled to run until 2026, which will address the evidence need for the impact of domestic burning. The research is focusing on urban air pollution issues, particularly domestic combustion, its effects on particulate matter and the consequences for human health. 
  • The Scottish Government will take forward, working with businesses that may be affected and other interested parties, potential measures to control the supply of the most polluting domestic fuels – including a ban on house coal, restricting the sulphur content of smokeless fuels to 2%, prohibiting the sale of certain types of wet wood and introduction of a minimum renewables content for manufactured smokeless fuels. 

Earlier this year, the Welsh government also pressed on with their own clean air plans, through the publication of The Environment (Air Quality and Soundscapes) Bill.

With Ecodesign for stoves and boilers firmly in place, the HETAS Cleaner Choice scheme overcomes the weaknesses in that legislation. We are actively promoting our independent Cleaner Choice certification scheme as only listing the cleanest and best performing range of appliances on a pass/fail basis. The scheme uniquely relies on review of a wider range of test data from notified laboratories in checking that each appliance can be confirmed as meeting, and in critical areas, exceeds some of the most stringent limits set by tested standards and test methods. The HETAS Cleaner Choice Approval Scheme, while focused on particulate emissions, also provides the consumer and installer assurance that the appliance listed meets all the relevant regulations in the UK, including safety and performance requirements, correct operation, and correct installation. To gain Cleaner Choice certification, appliances must meet the schemes 50% improvement on Clean Air Act requirements over an average of 3 or 5 tests (dependent on appliance) for particulates at both high and low output. The limit is given from the equation (5/0.3)*0.1)/2. E.g. for a 5kW stove output the limit would be 3.3 g/h. You can search hundreds of certified stoves and boilers on the Cleaner Choice scheme here.

We all know the importance of correct installation, appliance use, fuel selection and sweeping and maintenance as part of the vital journey in ensuring a stove or boiler can perform at optimum levels. We must continue educating stove users on their role in minimising their impact of air quality, but also the wider role in home efficiency, carbon reduction and safety.

September started off with Chimney Fire Safety Week. It was another successful campaign and even though there has been a real spike in the last twelve months of stove use, statistics show a continued decline in instances of chimney fires (in England). Thank you to everyone who supported the campaign again this year. It is important that we all promote important safety messages throughout the year and encourage as many stove users as possible to ensure their chimneys are regularly swept and appliances maintained. There’s a growing number of advice articles on the HETAS website and you can also make use of our regular social media posts and videos posted on YouTube. 

In this month’s newsletter, we look at the importance of notifying installations on time. In addition to being outlined in the competent person scheme terms and conditions, there is a regulatory requirement on installers to notify HETAS of your installations in a timely manner. Whilst we understand that many business hold notifications back until receipt of payment from a customer, the regulatory requirements and contractual obligations come first. Being paid on time is of real importance to small businesses and we fully support initiatives to ensure businesses are paid on time, but DLUHC push schemes to ensure notifications are timely as a matter of regulation meaning that we have no choice but to push for compliance.

Also, we have outlined some steps you can put in place to ensure prompt payment and the support you have through your HETAS membership when payment isn’t forthcoming. Prompt Payer is a free benefit you can access through your registration with HETAS and they can help you when your business hasn’t been paid. Nearly £750,000 has been recovered by Prompt Payer on behalf of HETAS businesses. Please make use of this free service when you need to. The HETAS Technical Hub also hosts documentation to support the admin function of your business, from risk assessments and method statements, quotation and contract templates and complaints handling, all designed to support your business.

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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