Is your fuel legal?

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.

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

Useful Links

Here are some other useful links on this topic:$FILE/FellingLicenceFAQJuly2005.pdf

National Woodfuel Conference 2015

National Woodfuel Conference 2015

Sustainability is emerging as a key theme for speakers at this year’s National Wood Fuel Conference on 15 October.

National Woodfuel Conference 2015
National Woodfuel Conference 2014

With new sustainability criteria for Renewable Heat Incentive grants coming into force on 5 October, speakers from the Forestry Commission and the Woodsure certification scheme, will be taking a topical look at the impact of these changes on the wood fuel sector. The conference programme also highlights the breadth of the biomass industry, with speakers from the UK District Energy Association on district heating systems and Entrade, manufacturers of the recently launched world’s smallest biomass power plant. Chris Miles, Senior Advisor at the Renewable Energy Association will open the conference with a presentation on building a long-term policy strategy for biomass heating. New entrants to the sector will find case studies from new installations at Highfield School and Birtley House, of particular interest.

Support for sector growth will be outlined in a presentation by Forestry Commission Director South East and London, Alison Field, with a look at opportunities for funding via Local Enterprise Partnerships and other grant options as well as commercial investment. The conference will also be highlighting opportunities the wood fuel sector offers to landowners and the private forestry sector, with speakers from the CLA, Forestry Commission and Nicholson Nurseries.

Organised by Surrey Hills Enterprises in association with Grown in Britain and the CLA, the one-day conference is sponsored by LC Energy, Surrey County Council and the Forestry Commission.

The venue is the Duchess’s Stand at Epsom Downs Racecourse, with its purpose built conference facilities and free parking for delegates. The conference will run from 8.00am – 4.30pm and

Epsom Downs Racecourse
Epsom Downs Racecourse

features round table breakout sessions as well as speaker presentations. Delegates will also be able to benefit from an on-site exhibition featuring a range of suppliers to the wood fuel industry. The cost is £115 for the day, including lunch, with an early-bird price of £95 available for bookings placed before the 23 September 2015.

Matthew Woodcock at the Forestry Commission in SEE said, “The woodfuel industry has come a long way in the last 10 years, yet the opportunities for further growth are huge. Woodfuel is an integrated industry where all elements in the ‘wood to heat’ supply chain must pull together for success. This year’s event provides an opportunity for the sector to share knowledge and explore how we can grasp the opportunities.”

For more information or to book a place at the conference or exhibition space, please call Surrey Hills Enterprises on 01483 661152 or visit