Stove makers urge focus on open fires in air quality drive

Stove manufacturers have claimed that proposals to clamp down on the burning of solid wood fuel in London should be targeted at householders using open fires and not punish those using modern wood-burning stoves.

Last month, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan called for additional powers to tackle air pollution from sources including construction machinery and wood burning (see airqualitynews.com story).

Open fires account for around 70% of the wood burnt in London, according to the Stove Industry Alliance

As part of this, the Mayor has called for the creation of zones where the burning of solid fuel is not allowed, and enhanced powers for local authorities to inspect and enforce these rules.

However, according to the Stove Industry Alliance (SIA), the trade body representing companies that design, manufacture and market wood-burning stoves in the UK, the majority of wood burnt in London is on open fires and not in more efficient wood burning stoves.

Under the Clean Air Act, the types of fuel that can be burnt in open fires is limited in parts of the country that are declared ‘Smoke Control Areas’, unless using an exempt appliance which will conform to higher efficiency and emissions standards.

Open fire

In a statement, SIA said: “The problem in London is burning wood on open fires. According to BEIS 70% of the wood burnt in London is burnt on open fires, even though this is not permitted under the Clean Air Act. This is the worst way to burn wood both from the heat generated and the emissions produced.”

According to SIA, replacing open fires and older stoves with appliances compliant with forthcoming European regulations on eco-design could reduce emissions by up to 90%.

The eco-design legislation is aimed at reducing emissions of PM2.5 and PM10 particulates and is due to be implemented for solid fuel room heaters in 2022. This will mean that from January 2022 it will be illegal to sell a stove that has not passed the eco-design emission and efficiency tests.

Upgrade

SIA has proposed an upgrade scheme to help people move away from open fires, adding: “This could give the city a quick and sustainable win on air quality.”

And, the Alliance has claimed that reforms to the eco-design regulations will bring about a sufficient drop in particulate emissions.

It concluded: ”The Mayor has proposed reforming the Clean Air Act to set tighter emission limits for wood-burning stoves and create zones where the burning solid fuels is forbidden. The Ecodesign regulations will give him what he is looking for, with PM emission limits that are 55% lower than the current Clean Air Act limits. The Ecodesign emission limits are due to come into force in 2022 but the SIA has introduced the stoves now.”

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Stove Industry Alliance