There has been a lot of confusion recently created by the government’s new pledge to ban coal and wet wood amongst owners of a solid fuel fire and potential future buyers. Put simply, ‘house’ coal and wet wood will be banned by 2023, but this does not mean there will be a complete ban on using solid fuel, wood burning or multi fuel stoves.
There is an alternative fuel that will not be facing a ban and that is ‘Smokeless’ fuel/coal. Those living in smoke controlled areas have already been using this type of fuel for many years. For example, areas like The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and other areas in London are smoke control areas. The residents in these areas have been burning smokeless fuels for years. As seen quoted on the RBSK Gov website – ‘The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is a smoke control area, which means that it is an offence to emit smoke from a chimney of a building, or from a furnace or any fixed boiler. It is also an offence to use an unauthorised fuel; unless it is in an exempt appliance, and even then, it must be a specified fuel for that exempt appliance.
Smokeless fuels are a lot more beneficial to burn. Bringing you up to a third more heat than normal house coal and has up to a 40% longer burning time, which in turn means you are having to re-fuel your appliance a lot less often, providing you with a more cost effective way of burning. Smokeless fuel contains less volatile materials and therefore there will be no production of thick smoke when it is used allowing a much more efficient fire and an improvement of air quality. As the councils are aware of the upcoming ban, they are also working on a much cleaner ‘smokeless fuel’ allowing an even cleaner burn.
Regarding the ban of burning wet wood by 2020, Wet wood produces a lot more smoke when burnt which then releases more pollutants and small particles into the air compared to that of dry wood. Dry wood will still be legal to burn after 2020. Kiln Wood is also a great form of dry wood to burn as it has been dried in an oven, resulting in minimal moisture. Dry wood also offers its benefits by producing less smoke unlike wet wood which causes condensing onto the cooler sides of the chimney or flue, which then produces tar and acidic residues causing a thick deposit build up and this is one of the biggest causes of chimney fires and can cause damage to your stove.
However, there is no law against one using their own wood. For example if someone was to chop down a tree in their garden and burn the wood from the tree on their stove, there is no law against this as they haven’t actually purchased the wood from a retailer, store or manufacturer.
In conclusion, ‘house coal’ and ‘wet wood’ will be banned by 2023. But Smokeless fuel and dry wood will not be banned. You will be able to purchase smokeless fuel from many hardware shops, petrol stations and DIY stores and they will be clearly labelled ‘smokeless coal’, so don’t panic, you can confidently carry on using your stoves and multi fuel fires with ease knowing you aren’t breaking the law or if you’re looking to invest in a new stove do not let the 2023 ban have an effect on that.