Defra consults on air quality
Defra has confirmed via its latest consultation that it isn’t looking to ban the use of stoves. They do want to know what you think about their proposals for helping householders move to cleaner fuels for domestic burning.
The Clean Air Strategy states that air pollution is the top environmental risk to human health in the UK. We often think of air pollution as being caused by transport or industrial level burning of fossil fuels. Now that the emissions from these sources has decreased, the relative importance of emissions from other sources has increased. The Strategy is clear that we now need to tackle these other sources of air pollution, including emissions caused by heating our homes.
So what is this latest consultation all about?
Launched in August and running through until mid-October this consultation is focused on cleaner domestic burning of solid fuels and wood.
Using cleaner fuels in a cleaner appliance installed by a competent person, knowing how to operate it efficiently, and ensuring that chimneys are regularly swept by a professional or registered chimney sweep all make a big difference. Defra has developed simple guidance for all local authorities to share with residents on these simple steps and is working with industry to encourage householders to take action in all these areas.
This consultation gives more detail about the proposals set out in the Strategy, focusing on the domestic use of solid fuel in England considers what further steps can be taken to encourage households to make a change from dirtier to cleaner fuels, with some key areas of focus:
- Consumers who burn traditional house coal switching to alternative fuels (e.g. low sulphur manufactured solid fuels);
- Consumers switching from wet wood to dry wood (with a moisture content of 20% or less);
- Introduction of sulphur limits and smoke emission limits for all manufactured solid fuels.
It is here that Defra confirms that “We are not considering banning domestic burning. The government recognises that households have installed wood-burning stoves and the government is not seeking to prevent their use or installation.”
Our recent ‘Ban on wood stoves’ article helped clarify the direction Defra is working toward. Feel free to share this content on your social media channels and with you customers.
The proposals in this more detailed consultation include:
- Restrictions on the sale of wet wood for domestic burning so that it can only be purchased in volumes over a specified cut-off point;
- Applying sulphur standards and smoke emission limits to all solid fuels;
- Phasing out the sale of bituminous or traditional house coal;
This current consultation runs until Friday 12th October 2018.
HETAS and Woodsure will be contributing to the consultation and we encourage industry to do the same.
To view all the information relating to the consultation and to contribute visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/air-quality-using-cleaner-fuels-for-domestic-burning.
Air Pollution in the news
Statement from HETAS
HETAS is aware that the news is full of stories about air quality and mixed within the greater problems of transport are dramatic headlines about wood-burning.
Both HETAS and Woodsure have been working with Defra over the last year providing support and solutions where our industry will be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.
The London Mayor’s office have been equally supportive of HETAS and Woodsure. If you read the articles that sit beneath the dramatic headlines you will see that there is no wish from Defra to ban stoves or wood-burning.
The key issuers are:
- Burn the right fuel in the right appliance
- DO NOT BURN WET WOOD – the Defra approach fully supports the Woodsure Ready to Burn scheme as explained in Technical Bulletin #9 sent out last month
- HETAS would like to see old open fires and old stoves replaced with modern clean burn appliances like Defra exempt stoves, Ecodesign Ready stoves and pellet stoves which can be 80% cleaner in use with the right dry fuel – click here to search for appliances on the HETAS website
- Installation and servicing by HETAS registered professionals is a major factor in getting installations and servicing right
- HETAS Approved Chimney Sweeps should be used to sweep chimneys regularly
- We strongly recommend the use of smokeless mineral fuels as they are low in sulphur and cleaner in use
- Make use of the HETAS Advice leaflets, available online here, or order via the HETAS Shop
- Find out more on the https://www.readytoburn.org/ website
All these things are incredibly important to our industry and we must educate consumers on fuel, proper installation, appliance use, proper maintenance and sweeping. Always check you’re the user instructions for your appliance or consult with the installer, retailer or chimney sweep on correct use.
The reduction in particulate emissions when using dry wood is incredible. This is the most positive message we can give out and it is based on scientific research. Dry wood is so much cleaner in use and makes stoves work at their best. Other emissions are also reduced markedly when using dry wood. The Woodsure Ready to Burn Scheme and logo gives assurance that the wood logs are up to 20% moisture content and therefore “ready to burn” now. Any wet wood must be seasoned/dried before use.
You can be reassured that HETAS and Woodsure are incredibly active and working closely with Government to get this right and to reduce environmental impact from solid fuel burning so that consumers can enjoy the benefits of solid fuel, wood, biomass without feeling concerned.
Installers, servicing businesses and chimney sweeps have the biggest part to play in educating consumers and therefore reducing environmental impact and protecting our industry.
Stay tuned for the HETAS June e-newsletter next week where we will be issuing further updates.
Click here to get in touch with the team at HETAS.
HETAS HIGHLIGHTS NEW AIR QUALITY REGULATIONS
HETAS is alerting installers and specifiers to changes in air quality regulations which affect biomass applications for the non domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). From September 24th 2013 applications for a biomass boiler will need to have either a RHI emission certificate or an environmental permit demonstrating low particulate and nitrous oxide (NOx) emissions. Since the non domestic Renewable Heat Incentive was launched, the majority of funding has been allocated to biomass installations, with commercial users reaping the benefits of using biomass as a low carbon fuel.
The criteria for the RHI emission certificate is a maximum of 30 grams per gigajoule (g/GJ) net heat input for particulate matter, and 150 g/GJ for NOx (expressed as NO2). If the biomass boiler does not have a RHI emission certificate then an environmental permit from the Environment Agency is required. Biomass boilers that do not have a RHI emission certificate or an environmental permit will be ineligible for the non domestic RHI. Applications before that date don’t need to meet the air quality requirements, but applications for additional boiler capacity after 24th September will need to meet the new standards.
End users must make sure they use the correct fuel as specified in the emission certificate. Fuel quality is paramount, and moisture content has the biggest effect on heat output as any water in the fuel has to evaporate away before the wood or biomass will burn, using up energy and reducing the amount of useful heat as opposed to steam up the chimney. For installations using wood pellets the European ENplus standard ensures fuel quality with minimum standards for ash content, ash melting temperature, wood pellet size, dust, moisture content and heat output. HETAS is approved as the UK certification body for ENplus by the European Pellet Council (EPC), and is able to certificate both producers and traders under the ENplus scheme.
HETAS is the only dedicated competent persons scheme for the solid fuel and biomass industry, and operates a Microgeneration Certification Scheme for biomass and solar thermal installers along with an appliance approval scheme for biomass appliances. They also run a fuel quality scheme along with Woodsure, with full details available on the HETAS website.