County Durham’s traders and residents are being advised of changes in legislation which will affect the sales of domestic wood, coal and other solid fuels.
Durham County Council will be contacting businesses ahead of 1 May 2021, to ensure they are aware that the sale of wet wood and coal for domestic fires is being phased out.
It’s hoped the changes will help to address climate change and pollution and improve air quality.
The changes mean that any wood fuel, sold in quantities under two cubic metres from 1 May, must not have a moisture content over 20 per cent.
Where more than two cubic metres of wood is being sold, instructions must be provided about how to dry it, clearly stating that it should not be burned until its moisture content is 20 per cent or less.
Small foresters, selling less than 600 cubic metres of wood per year, are exempt from these rules until 1 May 2022.
Sales of pre-packed coal are also prohibited from May 2021, two years before the sale of all coal for domestic use will cease.
Domestic loose coal can only continue to be sold by members of the approved coal merchant scheme, with details available on the Solid Fuel Association website: www.solidfuel.co.uk
Other manufactured solid fuel must be included in a list, approved by a certification body.
The packaging of wood fuel and solid fuel must all include a ‘Ready to Burn’ logo and be accompanied by the certificate number issued by a certification body.
Although DEFRA has appointed Woodsure as the wood certification body, it is yet to appoint a certification body to oversee the sale of manufactured solid fuel.
Joanne Waller, Durham County Council’s head of community protection, said: “These measures aim to improve air quality for our residents and help to tackle pollution and climate change. Our officers will be contacting businesses selling wood fuel, coal and other solid fuel over the coming weeks to advise them of the changes ahead.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to advise consumers across the county of the impending changes so that they can make informed choices as to the wood and solid fuel they are purchasing to heat their homes.”
Meanwhile, the council continues to enforce legislation under the Clean Air Act, investigating complaints resulting from smoke from fires. The effects of this and any resulting pollution can result in householders being liable for burning non-compliant fuel. For parts of the county not within smoke control areas, smoke issues may be investigated as a nuisance.
Officers seek to trace the supply chain as part of any such complaint, to ensure action can be taken in respect of non-compliant products being sold. Traders will always be advised on any issues in the first instance, however, continued non-compliance may result in financial penalty notices on sellers.
A list of approved manufactured solid fuels can be found at smokecontrol.defra.gov.uk/fuels.