New Restrictions for Wood Burners and Open Fires

Clean air strategy logo

As part of the government’s Clean Air Strategy 2019, roughly 1.5 million households using wood burners or open fires could face strict regulation in a bid to improve plummeting air quality across the UK. The strategy aims to reduce particulates across the country by 2030, and the use of wood burners and open fires — and the fuel used for each — could face restrictions.

What is the Clean Air Strategy 2019?

The overall plan, outlined under the Clean Air Strategy 2019, looks to cut air pollution to increase the amount of clean air across the UK. It is hoped that, by doing so, public health can be improved significantly.

Solid fuel fires — such as open fireplaces and wood burners — aren’t the only target of the strategy, however, they do take a focus in chapter 6 of the strategy ‘Action to reduce emissions at home’, where it states that, “Burning wood and coal in open fires and stoves makes up 38% of the UK’s primary emissions of fine particulate matter.”

To solve this issue, the government aims to:

  • Ensure that only the cleanest stoves are available for sale by 2022
  • Legislate to prohibit the sale of the most polluting fuels

So what might this mean for owners of solid fuel appliances?

The impact on open fires and wood burners

One of the biggest potential impacts facing owners of open fires and wood burners, is the ‘phasing out’ of high-pollution fuels. Traditional house coal — or, bituminous coal — is at the forefront, with the government likely to take steps to prohibit the sale of house coal entirely. This would be a drastic change, as bituminous coal is the most abundant and most popular coal for open fires.

As far as the appliances themselves go, anyone who owns an appliance that does not meet the approval of the Clean Air Strategy 2019 could be forced to have them replaced.

What are the alternatives?

If the regulations come into place as expected, then people will have to adapt the types of solid fuels they use. For those who burn house coal, they will need to find a smokeless, cleaner alternative. Natural anthracite is a great alternative. Despite the higher upfront costs, the performance increase and longer-lasting flame make it more economical in the long run.

There is also a range of manufactured smokeless fuels designed for specific use-cases like this. When burned, these fuels do not leave behind polluting particulates in the air. They don’t burn with a thick, black smoke, and are commonly recommended for use in smoke control areas, now. The same can be said of anthracite.

For wood burners, the main fuel restrictions will cover wet wood fuels, which burns much less efficiently than seasoned dry wood. With this in mind, as long as you find a reliable supplier of quality, dry firewood, you won’t have to change your habits too much. The only issue could be, as with open fires, how efficient your wood burner is.


At KG Smith & Son, we supply quality smokeless solid fuels for both open fireplaces and wood burners, ensuring prompt delivery on a nextday basis, where possible. Whether you want to switch to smokeless coal or you need a regular supply of seasoned firewood, we can provide all the advice you need to make sure you can keep your fire burning in a clean, ecofriendly manner. To find out more or to arrange an order, simply contact us today.



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