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Does the phasing out of wet wood and coal affect how you heat your home?

The sale of the most polluting fuels burned in household stoves and open fires will be phased out from next year to clean up the air, the Government has said.

Plans to phase out the sale of house coal and wet wood have been confirmed, as part of efforts to tackle tiny particle pollutants known as PM2.5, which can penetrate deep into lungs and the blood and cause serious health problems.

Wood burning stoves and coal fires are the single largest source of PM2.5, contributing three times as much of the pollution as road transport, the Environment Department (Defra) said.

So sales of two of the most polluting fuels, wet wood and house coal, will be phased out from 2021 to 2023, to give householders and suppliers time to move to cleaner alternatives such as dry wood and manufactured solid fuels.

These produce less smoke and pollution, and are cheaper and more efficient to burn, officials said.

Sales of all bagged traditional house coal will be phased out by February 2021, and the sale of loose coal direct to customers via approved coal merchants will end by February 2023.

Sales of wet wood in units of under two cubic metres will be restricted from sale from February 2021, to allow for existing stocks to be used up.

What are your views? Do you have a wood burner or open fire? How will this new legislation affect you? 

Does the phasing out of wet wood and coal affect how you heat your home?

193 people have already voted, what's your opinion? Yes No

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rudijude
6th Mar 2020
0
Thanks for voting!
I have 2 woodburners and no central heating in my home.
For the last 2 years I mainly use kiln dried logs supplied locally
BUT
I also buy a few loads from a local tree surgeon which is a useful by-product for him and I "season" them in my shed.
There is another local log supplier that has his own woodland which he manages sustainably and I hope he is permitted to continue this practice and survives financially.
Greatgran6
1st Mar 2020
0
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There are many comments about using seasoned wood, which makes sense . We use well seasoned wood from our land, in our two closed stoves. During power cuts (always when it is very cold) we can not use our LPG central heating as there is no pump or ignition. What no one has mentioned is smokeless fuel. The pollutants removed from ordinary coal to produce the smokeless fuel must go somewhere. Can any of your experts cast any light on this?
yo
29th Feb 2020
0
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Having experienced the effects of this on my health I have already stopped using.
Saltyseas
29th Feb 2020
1
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As can be seen from the poll above the phasing out of wet wood will have little impact on climate change or pollution, it will only impact those in more rural areas.

Should Japan or China open another coal fired power station then this will more than negate the effect of this ban. The government as usual have not though this through and provided little education on the subject. There has been no definition of 'Wet Wood' and many people are under the misapprehension that wet wood is just that ..Wet Wood, instead of the real fact that wet wood is 'unseasoned wood'.
Once again that this is a token move by the government to 'be seen to be green'. Once more they have gone for the minority small fry instead of tackling the big issues.... Such as championing and unifying world policy on the reduction of global warming.

As for electric cars and electric heating, where is all this electric coming from, nuclear power ? What happens to the waste ? Or coal fired fossil fuel power stations ?. Wind turbines would not cut the mustard. Where is the build programme to provide all the electrical resources that will be required ? Surely such a programme should be running in parallel with the proposed ban of fossil fuel cars by 2025. How will people in houses with no parking facilities ( millions of them) charge their cars.. will we have extension leads over the pavements.

Would it not make more sense to fit "particulate" filters to all cars. Such filters could be changed on a service or a more frequent if require. This would then give our younger generation time to plan and instigate a long term solution, rather than a knee jerk reaction in the wrong direction by the generation currently in power.


Sorry... end of the rant ! Just put it down to age or is it 'Wisdom with age?
DesM
28th Feb 2020
0
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Think their figures are wrong. There are millions more vehicles than wood burners and open fires. Next we will see registration and taxing of burners.
I have a burner and source my own wood. I have a 6-7 year supply. Most wet wood takes a minimum of 2 years to dry out naturally (conifer 3 years minimum). I have a moisture meter and check my stock prior to use. To check it’s suitable to burn.
ElisabethR
27th Feb 2020
0
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I don't really understand the term wet wood. We occasionally light a fire for fun. And burn the wood from trees in our garden. Our main heating is gas.
Lionel
28th Feb 2020
2
Thanks for voting!
Wet wood refers to timber which, when cut from a tree, has not been laid aside for up to five years, depending on the type of tree it came from, in order that certain chemical process may be completed, usually without the intervention of man.

This is called seasoning, since many seasons must pass before the timber is suitable for any use.

Burning unseasoned wood in a domestic situation results in a flue/chimney being clogged with highly flammable wood residues. Generally, if a house fire is caused by such combustion the Fire Brigades term this as neglect and bill the householder for costs incurred in their call out. I understand the sums involved can be many thousands of pounds.

As a general rule, hard wood - from deciduous trees like oak, elm etc., - requires about five years to become safe in a stove. Soft woo, pines, take about the same time but for different reasons.

I do hope that helps.
ElisabethR
29th Feb 2020
0
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Thank you........ Better tell the family then. We have a pretty large stack from the tree that came down.
Billythequiche
26th Feb 2020
3
Thanks for voting!
I am old enough to remember when the Clean Air Act came in and we had to change to "smokeless fuel", whatever happened to that? Thankfully we do not have a log burner or other type of open fire. If it is enforced (fat chance) we will benefit as one of our neighbours uses one. Unfortunately, the prevailing wind covers our house in smoke as if they use anything that is flammable.
Comments from Lionel are, as usual, considered, informed and reasonable but, if I may use a cliche, "horses for courses". The points made surly cannot be made for a semi on an estate in the middle of suburbia and even our local convenience shop sells the "good stuff".
Lionel
26th Feb 2020
2
Thanks for voting!
Billy, if your neighbour is smothering the neighbourhood in smoke he's/she's not using their stove properly. Not enough heat is generated in the stove to burn off noxious gasses.

Surely suburbia would have access to much more dependable supplies of electricity than we do. Currently, we average fifteen power cuts a year, a few lasting a couple of days. An uninterrupted electricity supply means oil burners may be used. Also, gas is available in more densely populated areas. There need be no lack of heating or hot food and drink on cold days.

People installing stoves in towns, cities or suburbia are likely to be doing so as a vanity project or that they prefer that form of heating. Whereas here, and in very many rural places known to me, they are necessities.

In a nutshell, my point about this legislation is that it will impact a small portion of the population but has, and will again, generate much favourable publicity for the government. If, however, the legislation has said for example, electricity supplies to densely populated areas will be restricted as the UK doesn't generate sufficient or gas supplies are being terminated until the Russians agree terms for the use of their gas pipeline there would be a hue and cry and an election the next week.
Billythequiche
27th Feb 2020
1
Thanks for voting!
I would have hated to oppose you at a Uni. debating society, I yield. My views were coloured by the neighbour and TV shows showing log burners as a fashion accessory. I owe an apology to those to whom it is a necessity.
I do remember, as a child, cleaning out the grate, taking the ash out to the garden box, making paper "sticks", chopping real sticks (Health and Safety would have a fit), lighting and adding coal one lump at a time. Using a "drawing" plate or newspaper was often necessary. using the gas poker was a last alternative but used sparingly for economy. Not my favourite job.
Thinking about the gas poker, it, and the cooker were connected to the supply by a rubber connecter over an olive shaped spout. How did we ever survive?
During our early marriage, our council house had warm air central heating. We remember during the "winter of discontent" sitting around the gas cooker with candles.
Keep warm this winter.
Lionel
27th Feb 2020
3
Thanks for voting!
I apologise Billy. Reading back, that was a rather sharp response.

I did go to uni, London, and got a BSc in Geology. However, my self-made father refused to sign the grant forms for me and instead I paid my way through by working evening and night shifts at Victoria Coach Station cleaning offices, public areas and even toilets. I can tell you handling animal effluence was somewhat more pleasant than cleaning toilets!. Sadly no time left for debating societies or much else.

Ah, yes ... I remember using a sheet of newspaper to draw the fire in my granny's house. Friday evening. I was fresh out of a tin bath and the paper caught light scorching my underwear and almost everything in it!
Billythequiche
28th Feb 2020
2
Thanks for voting!
Lionel, my conversations with you make me really happy that the children/grandchildren converted me to Wi-Fi communications and that that I found Silversurfers. I am not lonely by any means but contact with others of a similar age outside of your local friends is pleasurable. Our background is at the same time similar and disimilar. There is nothing wrong with nostalgia, times were not always as good as we like to think but we have been spared to review them. While the kids seem to use the internet to bully and criticise each other, our generation have found another way to reach out and communicate. I enjoy it when our views differ and when you are moderator to my impetuousness; don't ever feel a need to apologise, I am well used to your tone.
I hope you get through this awful weather without a power cut and that you and your wife are well.
Lionel
28th Feb 2020
1
Thanks for voting!
I too am impetuous as well as erratic at times. Comes with the package of both my wife and I being, like you, T2. Yet I believe our generation is better at bearing each others burdens. Perhaps even more forgiving.

Surfers is an oasis of pleasantness in an internet of turmoil and I give full credit to Sally our long suffering Editor. She's otherwise known as Miss Moneypenny! It is truly a social site and a boon for the very many members who are unable to travel far to make friends, and those who do that so much better in front of a screen.

You do have my undying admiration for staying in food retail for a lifetime. I lasted 3 days with Safeway in the Kings Road London. Locked the frozen food manager in the basement cold store and put the pin in the door catch. Haven't been back since. That's well over fifty years ago. Such things would attract a prison sentence these days - a hate crime. But there's no law against bloody-mindedness, as far as I know.

Over the week end I'll send a PM about T2 and vitamin aids. They have proved very effective for us.

Take care Billy, I look forward to your company and old fashioned common sense.
Felix1
26th Feb 2020
1
Thanks for voting!
When are the biggest polluters going to do their bit?
Lionel
26th Feb 2020
2
Thanks for voting!
They won't be doing anything Felix, no more than big waste generators will ever be challenged. It's always going to be the consumer of whatever who gets hammered.
MrsPat
26th Feb 2020
2
Thanks for voting!
We only have a normal little fireplace and sometimes burn coal and logs on it. It is lovely but when the wind is in the wrong direction it sometimes has a downdraft and smoke comes in the room which cannot be good for us.
PurpleHat
25th Feb 2020
5
Thanks for voting!
I live in a very rural area, in a 100 years old stone-built house on a single track lane, the only mains services we have is electricity, a phone line, and a rubbish collection, we have an oil boiler to heat our water and radiators which we keep on a basic 62 degrees in winter, for economy and the price of oil, and a wood-burner in a downstairs room to supplement this as the winters can go down to 17-18 degrees in a cold year. When we have a power cut, which is not unusual in stormy weather, we are without heat and cooker, as they are all controlled by electrics. What are we to do then? Stay in bed by candlelight ( oh! sorry, that is wax and maybe a pollutant!) and cold uncooked food? There is no gas line here. Most of my nearest neighbours are in the same situation. we are not in a position to change this situation or move into a cosy town. Our wood-burner is a lifeline.
Some of the comments below truly show the thoughtlessness and lack of understanding for the rural communities who are not all wealthy landowners and play farmers, but very real people making a living and caring for the countryside.
Lionel
26th Feb 2020
3
Thanks for voting!
I'm in much the same situation PurpleHat. In fact for most of the last fifty years I've lived in remote spots on farms or just by choice. May I respectfully suggest you read my two comments below. You'll find a very empathetic voice.

Perhaps I should add, I've long been of the belief Westminster bubble would like to de-populate the real areas and compress everyone into a major town or city. Then they may use their facial recognition stuff and keep an eye on us. As it is we're more or less free spirits.
PurpleHat
26th Feb 2020
1
Thanks for voting!
Lionel, Greetings,I did indeed read your comments sympathetically, as for your reply's last paragraph, it has already been suggested that the Hill farmers in this area should be paid not to farm, but to re-wild the area and manage it.
I fear that with the economic world as of now, this may come about by default as farming becomes impossible to sustain in the more upland places.
I have lived in towns and cities at times as a necessity not of choice. My choice is for space and the freedom, fresh air and beauty of the countryside which I have now and value immensely
My rant is with the politicians with a Degree in Politics and little Real Life Experience.
Margaret Hart
25th Feb 2020
1
Thanks for voting!
It won’t affect us at all as our heating is gas. But nothing was said about this when many people were having log burners fitted.
Lionel
25th Feb 2020
3
Thanks for voting!
This reads like a piece of sound environmental legislation. I feel I want to applaud this new government but wait on, all may not be as it seems.

Figures quoted in the press suggest there may be as many as two million wood burners, or as few as 200,000. No one knows for sure.

Many wood burners are centre pieces in holiday homes - properties bought as an investment towards a pension but used only during the summer. There's a good many instances in my neck of the woods. No one in their right mind lights a wood burner in summer.

Other stoves sit as a conversation piece, unused. 'Oh yes, darling,' in a well rehearsed Roedean accent. 'Aren't they wonderful?' Such people known to me would find a wood stack in the garden unsightly, so there isn't one. The stove usually has its original paint job undamaged.

The numbers are lessening already. A good many country dwellers have installed stoves as a backup against frequent power cuts. They use oil when there's electricity available.

Of those of us who use a wood stove as a main form of heating know better than to burn coal or wet (green) wood on them. Burning unseasoned wood lines the chimney/flue with a hard tar-like substance that burns quite easily. Many a thatch in East Anglia has gone this way as well as entire houses. I believe the Fire Brigade is expensive when negligence is proved.

House coal can fire up at modest temperatures too. Besides which it smells awful and is very messy. Best not used in stoves.

Several families locally, like me, source their fuel from woodland. Trees fallen in a storm. Forest thinnings, but it must be hard wood. Softwood also leaves a dangerous deposit in chimneys and flues. Use at your peril.

So, how is implementing this legislation going to be effective in combatting pollution? Simply, it's not.

But it looks good in the newspapers. The government is actually doing something. Yes, but not much it seems.

Politicians are far less keen to address the real elephant in the room. Much atmospheric pollution comes from towns and cities. Ah, but that's where the votes are, not out here in sparsely populated hamlets and villages.

These ideas to restrict the supply of wood and coal are but window dressing. The real polluters remain at large.
Wilf
25th Feb 2020
2
Thanks for voting!
We have a wood burner Lionel but have not used it much this year. I have about 3 tons of wood in an outside shed most of it pine but it has been there for about 5 years so I am happy to burn it as I have been led to believe the tar will have diminished by now-hopefully. We also use coal on our normal fire with wood as it keeps it going longer and burns more fiercely. Only a few years ago some politicians were harping on about wood burners being "environmentally friendly"...I think Gove was one of them. As usual they got it all wrong and have done a U turn. Bit like Thatcher ranting on about lean-burn diesel. We all got them and look at the situation now! Back to the drawing board methinks!
Lionel
25th Feb 2020
3
Thanks for voting!
I've used a wood burner for at least 30 out of the last 40 years. Like you I would only burn soft woods after storing for about 5 years. Never have these stoves given any cause for alarm - they're serviced every year, chimney swept and inspected and burn almost continuously from October through to May.

I don't dispute the fact air pollution is a problem in towns and cities. But stand in my garden tonight. (I've just been chasing pupski around trying to get her in). The sky is crystal clear, stars bright, air fresh and with the bite of chill in it, yet there's at least 10 stoves going tonight. We'll be 35 miles away in our nearest city next week. On returning here our clothes will stink! We'll have tight chests and a cough.

The problem is with the density of population, vehicles, and other ariel polluters in cities. That is where the major causes of respiratory diseases lie. Not where I am. Yet there must be far fewer stoves per 1000 population than in rural areas. Certainly more cars, trucks busses and the like per square mile than my home hamlet.

As said above, no government will address that issue with definitive laws because voters live there. It's all very well advocating electric transport but that power must be generated somewhere out of town. The resultant pollution is then blamed on rural areas. We have Sizewell 30 miles away. Arcing around that the hedgerows are stunted, blackberries finish like peas and I could go on. That's OK it seems, so long as London is polluted.

Rant finished, for tonight.
Lionel
25th Feb 2020
2
Thanks for voting!
That should read London is not polluted.
Wilf
26th Feb 2020
1
Thanks for voting!
I totally agree its the cities where the problem lies and its much like the London smogs in the 50s and the Clean Air Act. The chap next door to us has frequent bonfires burning piles of wet leaves. It is probably just as/more polluting than home fires but the government has not yet seen fit to ban bonfires...at least I don't think they have?
Yagala
25th Feb 2020
1
Thanks for voting!
I already have phased coal and woot years ago for electric, which does not take up a lot of space, is easy to maintain and does not need a lot of work.
Mary Lincoln
25th Feb 2020
3
Thanks for voting!
No it doesn't affect me but, lm sure it will a number of people who love the glow of a fire.If they ban gas then it will.
Bald123
25th Feb 2020
3
Thanks for voting!
We do have a wood burner and also a fireplace but I use them less and less over the years as it's expensive and I cannot be bothered-easier to turn the central heating on.

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