The legislation for The Air Quality (Domestic Solid Fuels Standards) (England) Regulations 2020 has successfully passed through both The House of Parliament and The House of Lords in recent weeks. This was closely followed by the legislation receiving the Secretary of State’s signature, moving the regulation from draft status into law.
These Regulations are made under section 87 of the Environment Act 1995 (c. 25) and they make provision restricting the sale of certain solid fuels, and provide for the enforcement of breaches of these Regulations by a local authority.
Legislation will become effective from 1st May 2021 for the majority of firewood suppliers, with small foresters given a longer period to transition of 12 months from 1st May 2021.
Commenting on this important development HETAS CEO Bruce Allen:
This new legislation is incredibly positive for all concerned. The banning of polluting wet wood and house coal in England will promote real change with dry wood and smokeless mineral fuels being the only ones left on the market, available for purchase and use. Crucially there will be a requirement for a Ready to Burn Certification scheme with its clear logo giving customers and sellers a clear indication of what fuel is actually ready to burn and therefore can be purchased legally. This, along with modern clean low emissions appliances will make a huge difference to the environmentally responsible use of solid fuels and wood for stoves and boilers. This is a significant step to reducing particulate emissions and better air quality.
The Regulations Explained
The Regulations are broken down into several parts, covering wood, manufactured solid fuels, coal and enforcement.
Part 2 – Prohibition on the supply of a relevant unit of wood
The Air Quality (Domestic Solid Fuels Standards) (England) Regulations 2020, UK Statutory Instruments 2020 No. 1095, will only apply to England and focuses on the prohibition of the sale of wood in units less than two cubic metres unless it is authorised and a person must not supply a relevant unit of wood if the wood is not authorised wood. The sale of wood for combustion in domestic properties must include the relevant information and the ‘Ready to Burn’ mark as identified in the regulations. This part of Regulations identifies the prohibited level means a moisture content of more than 20%. Failure to do so will be liable on summary conviction to a fine.
Relevant information required with the sale of wood include:
- the name of the person who obtained the certificate from the approved wood certification body in respect of the relevant unit of wood in question; and
- the number of the certificate issued by the approved wood certification body under regulation 5(5).
A small forester for the purposes of this regulation is considered to be a person who supplies less than 600 cubic metres of wood (during the year ending 30th April 2021). Such suppliers will be given an additional 12 months to meet these Regulations.
Part 2, Regulation 5 identifies the process for the appointment and functions of an approved wood certification body.
Part 3 – sales over two cubic meters
Part 3 of the Regulations relates to the supply of wood in amounts of two cubic metres or more. It is an offence punishable by a fine to supply such an amount of wood without the accompanying words specified in Schedule 2.
Schedule 2 states:
This wood is not suitable for burning until it has been dried. You should not burn wood until it has a moisture content of 20% or less.
Wet wood contains moisture which creates smoke and harmful particulates when burnt. As well as being harmful to your health and the environment, this can damage your stove and chimney and is an inefficient way to heat your home. Dry it in a sunny, well-aired space for at least two years, keeping rain off in the winter.
Radial cracks and bark that comes off easily suggests wood that is ready for burning. Test the wood when you think it is ready for burning, ideally with a moisture meter. First calibrate the meter and then measure a freshly split surface to get the best reading.
Part 4 – supply of manufactured solid fuels
This part of the Regulations looks at the prohibition on the supply of certain manufactured solid fuels. Again, fuels will need to be authorised and display the ‘Ready to Burn’ mark as identified in Schedule 1 of the Regulations and contain the relevant information.
Regulation 10 states:
(1) A person must not supply a manufactured solid fuel that is not an authorised fuel.
(2) A person must not supply a manufactured solid fuel that is not listed on the list maintained by the Secretary of State under regulation 12.
(3) A person must not supply a manufactured solid fuel that is not accompanied, whether on its packaging or otherwise, with—
- the relevant information; and
- the logo shown in Schedule 1.
As with Part 2 of the Regulations, Part 4 (Regulation 11) looks at the criteria for the appointment and functions of an approved manufactured solid fuel certification body.
Part 5 – coal
Part 5 makes provision relating to the supply of bituminous coal. It is an offence to supply pre-bagged and loose bituminous coal. However, an Approved Coal Merchant will not commit the offence of selling loose bituminous coal to a consumer where the coal is sold directly to a consumer during the two-year period ending with 30th April 2023.
Part 6 of the Regulations covers enforcement of the Regulations and identifies the relevant Local Authority as being responsible, generally a County Council, or district Council for areas with no county council).
UK Statutory Instruments 2020 No. 1095 PART 6 Regulation 20 identifies that the penalty is £300 in respect of the offence in respect of which the penalty notice was issued with the period of payment being 28 days from the issue of the penalty.
Regulation 24 also states that a local authority may recover the expenses reasonably incurred by it in enforcing these Regulations from a person in respect of whom it has taken any action under these Regulations.
HETAS continues to work with Defra, BEIS and MHCLG in relation to the solid fuel and biomass sector and representing our registrants, from air quality to best installation and maintenance practice and consumer awareness. We will of course keep you updated as the finer details of the Regulations unfold, bookmark the News page of the HETAS website for latest updates.
The full Regulations can be viewed at https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/1095/contents/made.