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Important information if you sell solid fuel – Government make changes to legislation to improve air quality

Published on: 27 February 2020

British Marine members selling solid fuel should be made aware of recent Government announcements regarding the burning of such fuels for domestic heating purposes.

Last week, the UK Government published their summary of responses to the 2018 DEFRA consultation - Air Quality: Using cleaner fuels for domestic burning.

According to Government data, domestic burning through wood burning stoves and coal fires now makes up the single largest contributor to our national emissions of particulate matter (PM). The tiny particles in smoke can enter the bloodstream and enter internal organs, causing long term health issues as well as having more immediate impacts on some, such as breathing problems or asthma attacks.

As a result, the Government have made the following announcements which will apply within the next 12 months:


Coal sales

The Government proposes to ban the sale of all pre-packaged traditional bituminous house coal (i.e. that sold through retailers, supermarkets, DIY stores). The ban will apply one year from publication of the Government response (by 21/02/2021). This ban will apply to loose sales direct to customers via coal merchants two years later.


Wood sales

Government propose that wood sold in single units under 2m³ (loose stacked) must have a moisture content of 20% or less. Wet wood sold over these volumes will be required to come with advice on how to dry it ready for burning. Retailers will be required to store seasoned wood in such a way as to keep it dry. This will come into effect one year from publication of the government response (21/02/2021). From this time, sales of wet wood in volumes under 2m³ will be prohibited.


Manufactured Solid Fuels

For manufactured solid fuels, Government proposes to introduce a nationwide requirement (currently applying in Smoke Control Areas only) requiring a certified controlled sulphur content, (maximum 2%) and a smoke emission limit. This will be effective one year from publication of the Government response.


Next steps

Government will be producing further guidance for manufacturers, retailers, consumers and local authorities to explain the new legislative requirements for solid fuel sales in England which will be published on the Government website later this year.


British Marine will continue to monitor this issue and provide members with more information as it is published.


For more information, contact Brian Clark, Head of Public Affairs, Policy & Research