The Environment Act 2021 passed into law on 9th November. The government says the Act will improve air and water quality, tackle waste, increase recycling, halt the decline of species, and improve our natural environment. The Act will help us transition to a more circular economy, incentivising people to recycle more, encouraging businesses to create sustainable packaging, making household recycling easier and stopping the export of polluting plastic waste to developing countries.
The changes brought about by the Act will make improvements the our natural environment, but how will the changes impact you and your stove? A couple of key changes relate to air quality and domestic burning, these being:
- Setting new legally binding long-term targets to improve air quality and reduce fine particulate (PM2.5) emissions by October 2022.
- Changes to Local Authority enforcement in Smoke Control Areas (SCAs).
Reducing PM2.5 emissions
The air that you breathe contains a mixture of solids and liquids, including carbon, chemicals, sulphates, nitrates, mineral dust, and water. This is known as particulate matter. Some particles are more dangerous than others. Particles such as dust, soot, dirt or smoke, are large or dark enough to be visible. But the most damaging particles are minuscule particles, known as PM10 and PM2.5. PM2.5 particles
Regarding the target to reduce PM2.5 emissions, the government is prioritising this action as the most beneficial for public health and pushes continuous improvement. As a result, this puts greater emphasis on the solid fuel industry to guide education and action to reduce the impact of domestic burning on the environment and air quality.
There are simple steps you can take to make sure are doing your bit:
- Choosing Ready to Burn fuels
- Chimney sweeping – twice a year when burning wood or bituminous house coal and at least once a year when burning smokeless fuels
- Servicing your appliance annually
- Using your stove in accordance with the manufacturers instructions.
Campaigns such as Burn Better, a joint initiative supported by DEFRA, the Solid Fuel Association and HETAS, is just one example of how we are helping people to reduce emissions and improve air quality.
Local Authority enforcement in SCAs
The following changes have been made to enforcement by Local Authorities in SCAs:
- Quicker and easier to enforce penalties for smoke emissions from homes.
- Removes the limits on fines that can be issued for the sale and delivery of unapproved solid fuels to a building in an SCA.
Retailers of solid fuel will also be required to tell customers that it is illegal to buy unapproved fuel for use in an SCA unless they’re using a DEFRA Exempt appliance and the fuel is appropriate to use.
The Ready to Burn Certification Mark helps you to easily identify solid fuels that are legal to burn at home in compliance with Air Quality Regulations introduced earlier this year which bans the most polluting fuels, wet wood, and house coal, from sale in England. Find your local wood fuel supplier on the Woodsure website and manufactured solid fuels that meet Ready to Burn standards are listed on the Smoke Control website, their ID code starts with MSF.
For more information on burning in smoke control areas click here.