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What can we be doing to tackle air pollution – HETAS and Woodsure CEO

Response to new environmental targets set out by the government

In the new environmental targets set out by the government (published Friday 16 December), the legal-binding targets promise to tackle major problems such as air pollution.

Announcing the goals for air quality the targets that will be laid through statutory instruments are as follows:

  • An Annual Mean Concentration Target for PM2.5 levels in England to be 10 µg m-3 or below by 2040.
  • A Population Exposure Reduction Target for a reduction in PM2.5 population exposure of 35% compared to 2018 to be achieved by 2040.

Welcoming the new measures to improve air quality, leading biomass and fuel heating organisation, HETAS can vouch for the unprecedented demand for solid fuel heating currently, with its website recently reaching peak traffic levels surpassing 500,000 users as consumers seek out new or alternative ways to keep warm this winter without breaking the bank.

Bruce Allen, chief executive officer for HETAS and Woodsure, comments:

“The new goals for air quality set out by the government fit really well with our organisational purpose of reducing environmental impact from burning of solid fuels, wood and biomass. Unfortunately, an alarming proportion of solid fuel users may inadvertently be causing unnecessary pollutants to be emitted from their appliances by burning wet wood or being unaware of the correct wood seasoning requirements for efficient and cleaner burning.

“Dry or seasoned wood (with a moisture content of up to 20%) emits 7.21g per tonne of PM2.5 emissions when burned. But this figure quadruples to 28.87g per tonne when the wood is wet[1]. If more people burned better by simply switching to the right fuel or by using an efficient appliance, we could dramatically reduce harmful emissions and ultimately do much better by our planet.

“Part of our job as a not-for-profit industry organisation is providing help and guidance to promote appliances which meet performance limits for low emissions, and to raise awareness of ways to burn fuel as efficiently, cleanly and sustainably as possible where fires, stoves or boilers are the solution chosen by the home or business owners.

“Earlier this year we launched our independent Cleaner Choice Scheme for UK biomass and solid fuel products. The Cleaner Choice appliance scheme offers a simple way to choose solid fuel, wood, biomass appliances that are even cleaner to operate than current regulations require. In fact, appliances can only be approved if they beat current emissions requirements by at least 50% ensuring environmentally responsible, cleaner and safe use of low carbon fuels.

“We all breathe the same air; and while we agree that the industry undoubtedly must do more to tackle air pollution, consumers must take action too to make cleaner, safer choices when it comes to solid fuel. Our advice to consumers covers three main points:

  1. When installing a new heating appliance, opt for DEFRA-listed stoves or burners certified by the Cleaner Choice Scheme which achieve 50% lower PM5 emissions
  2. When choosing fuels, look for the ‘Ready to Burn’ label – a DEFRA certification (administered by HETAS and Woodsure), guaranteeing the cleanest fuels for burning at home
  3. Don’t skimp on annual sweeping or servicing; a well-maintained appliance will burn more cleanly, efficiently and safely”

For more information about cleaner, safer choices for solid fuel use within the home, visit hetas.co.uk or woodsure.co.uk.

[1]https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1121614/chief-medical-officers-annual-report-2022-air-pollution.pdf – p. 218