Is your fuel legal?

Posted on May 4th, 2018 by Alun

Is your fuel legal?

Recently the Woodsure team provided an update to its members on the legality of woodfuel. The article is really insightful and we wanted to share the update with installers, retailers and sweeps so you can check with your suppliers.

When finding a supplier of the raw material, ensure that they can provide you with proof of Legality and sustainability this can be by the following:-

  • FSC, PEFC or other recognised voluntary certification scheme
  • Management plan in place & valid felling licence
  • Risk Based Regional Assessment (RBRA)

If purchasing from a company who is a member of a voluntary certification scheme it is important to ensure that the licence is valid for the supply you receive.  This can be checked on the relevant scheme website, such as FSC. Simply enter the details and check the product type is valid for what you are being supplied. A description of corewood, rough wood is fine, but if it states card or paper alarm bells should ring as a wrong licence number may have been given.

If purchasing timber that is not covered by a certification scheme, then we recommend that you use one of the other two methods to demonstrate legality.  Felling licences are given for felling on the licensed area of land they are granted for.  There are different types of permission to fell trees: health and safety, planning permission, Statutory Plant Health Notices or thinning of woodland.  Licences can be issued for one off activities or associated with a management plan.  A licence cannot be extended beyond its expiry date and its FREE OF CHARGE to apply for one! A felling licence associated with a management plan normally lasts 5 or 10 years.

RBRA can be used when receiving volumes of timber from within a region.  It assesses the risk of the timber coming from sustainable sources.  The Biomass Suppliers List and Confor have a template that can be used for timber being sourced within the UK and guidance on RBRAs on the government website for those sourcing from outside the UK.  https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/woodfuel-guidance-version-2

We recommend all Woodsure accredited businesses should request that their timber supplier demonstrates proof of legality and sustainability. It is suggest you record all your suppliers on a simple spreadsheet document showing name, address, licence number, validity date and that you have some form of checking in case licences are revoked, perhaps check the licence numbers every quarter.

Importing Wood fuel

There are two things that you need to ensure when importing firewood into the UK: the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR), and the Statutory Firewood Notification Scheme.

Any wood coming into the EU needs to comply with the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR), which came into force on 3rd March 2013. The regulation affects all who first place timber on the EU market, plus those further down the supply chain.   Anyone importing wood into the UK is affected by this and must show that they have practices in place to ensure the legality of the wood being imported, even as a finished product. A due diligence system must be in place for anyone importing and to comply the minimum requirements are:

  • Full information on the supplier
  • Assessment that the timber being imported is legal and applies to regulation
  • Checked and identified any risks by obtaining any additional information to verify legality.

Templates for this can be found on the Forestry Commission England website.

For those who buy and sell wood further down the supply chain it is essential to record where you buy from and who you sell to.

Firewood notification came into force on 1st January 2017 to assist the Forestry Commission in assessing the pest-risk represented by the trade in fuel wood.  All relevant consignments, irrespective of size/weight, must be notified at least 3 working days prior to landing.  Notification of landing is a statutory requirement and failure to comply is a contravention of the Plant Health (Forestry) Order 2015.  In addition, certain species will also require a Plant Passport.

For more advice on this topic get in touch with the team on 01684 278188 or email info@woodsure.co.uk

Useful Links

Here are some other useful links on this topic:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/eu-timber-regulation-guidance-for-business-and-industry

http://www.fsc-uk.org/en-uk/about-fsc

https://www.pefc.org/

https://www.forestry.gov.uk/publicregisters

https://www.forestry.gov.uk/england-fellinglicences

https://www.forestry.gov.uk/pdf/FellingLicenceFAQJuly2005.pdf/$FILE/FellingLicenceFAQJuly2005.pdf

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