DEFRA have published their response to a recent consultation on improving air quality with changes to cleaner fuels for domestic burning of wood and solid fuels. The conclusion of their report is that:
- Traditional house coal will be phased out, with retailers having the next 12 months to clear their stocks.
- Wood sold in volumes under 2m3 will need to have a moisture content of under 20% and be stored
The move, whilst attracting some controversy, makes sense. Anyone using wood on a regular basis as a heating fuel will appreciate that dry wood produces a far more effective fire for heating. Forcing retailers to sell suitable dry wood will reduce pollution and fuel waste. Freshly cut wood usually needs a year or two to dry out. “Green timber” just cut down in the summer months could have a moisture content of 65%. If this was burnt in a fire then a huge amount of the energy in the wood be wasted by having to drive off the moisture. You would actually have to burn 12 logs of 65% moisture to generate the same heat as 4 logs at 20% moisture content. So it is well worth making sure you have dry wood. So whilst dry timber is more expensive, it is false economy not to use it. Alternatively, larger volumes of wet timber can be purchased and allowed to dry out, although space is needed to store it.
Burning traditional house coal is already banned in many areas of the country, because of the pollutants it contains. Anthracite can still be burnt as it is a much purer coal and burns without producing the smoke associated with house coal.
To see the consultation response visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/air-quality-using-cleaner-fuels-for-domestic-burning/outcome/summary-of-responses-and-government-response