Clean Air Plan Wales
Further to the announcement of the draft Environment Bill, on the 10 December the Welsh Government announced its Clean Air Plan, of which wood burning forms a key part.
Consultation now open
The Welsh Government are consulting on proposals which include:
- enhancing our air quality monitoring and assessment capabilities
- proposals for a fit for purpose legislative and regulatory air quality management framework for Wales
- increasing public awareness about air pollution and behavioural change communications to help everyone improve air quality and encourage others to do the same
- promoting the shift from the private motor vehicle to active travel and public transport
The 12 week consultation seeks views on existing commitments and proposed new actions in the plan and includes a focus on solid fuels, specifically stating:
- reviewing powers local authorities have to tackle emissions from the indoor burning of solid fuels such as wood and coal
Further the consultation will “assessing the contribution bonfires and fireworks make to levels of harmful emissions.”
The consultation document identifies that work in relation to domestic combustion will include:
- legislating to prohibit the use and sale of the most polluting fuels throughout Wales.
- ensuring that only the most efficient and least polluting appliances are available for sale by 2022.
- changes to smoke control legislation to make it easier for local authorities to proactively and effectively enforce and modernise the approach it takes to ensure it deals with the problems as they now stand.
- work with industry and other devolved administrations to identify appropriate test standards for new solid fuels entering the market.
- consider whether outdoor solid fuel burning appliances and the fuels they use should be subject to regulation if purchased for use within a SCA or throughout Wales. (E.g. barbecues, chimineas, pizza ovens, outdoor fireplaces and firepits).
- amending legislation to allow Welsh Ministers to publish an online list of fuels and appliances, moving away from the method of updating through Statutory Instruments.
Smoke Control Areas
The consultation proposes to amend existing primary legislation to move from updating these lists through Statutory Instrument to online published lists. Welsh Government recognises this would be more beneficial to businesses as it overcomes the delay between testing the new product and obtaining a listing in one of the annual Statutory Instruments and resulting in reduced burdens for businesses. The proposed changes benefit consumers by allowing new technologies to be brought to market more rapidly as the lists are updated on a more frequent (e.g. monthly) basis.
Welsh Government will also investigate the practicalities, advantages and challenges of regulating outdoor appliances and fuels for use within a SCA or throughout Wales. A
A Task and Finish group of key stakeholders was established in February 2019. The group includes industry, fuel suppliers, PHW, Healthy Air Cymru, Local authorities and organisations such as HETAS and Woodsure to consider all available evidence and develop a comprehensive package of interventions.
The consultation recognises that using cleaner fuels in an efficient appliance which is being used correctly and has been installed by a competent person (such as a HETAS Registered Installer) in an appropriate setting and is maintained regularly by a professional all makes a big difference to emission and concentration levels
The Woodsure Ready to Burn scheme is identified as an industry led scheme which is intended to educate and in doing so facilitate behavioural change. Welsh Government supports such schemes but wants to do more to ensure consumers are aware of the issues and know what to do to support future improvements.
HETAS along with Woodsure will be submitting responses to the consultation and we urge our stakeholders in Wales, or those supplying to customers in Wales, to contribute to the consultation.
Clean Air Plan Wales Consultation
The consultation can be viewed on the gov.wales website. The consultation closes on the 10th March 2020.