Are wood burners going to be banned?
OK - let’s be a bit more detailed, but it’s useful to establish that the headlines are just being strident as well as grossly misrepresentative, which seems to be strangely normal in discussing your wood burner. By now most people have seen the headlines ‘Will wood stoves be banned in the UK?’ or something similar. But while the answer to that question is no, new rules and regulations are being introduced that everyone planning to use their stove should familiarise themselves with.
The UK government has extended the powers and penalties associated with Smoke Control Areas - areas where the levels of smoke you are permitted to produce is very limited. These tend to be more built-up, urban areas, in which the combined particles being emitted from stoves can do significant damage not only to the environment, but also to the health of people who live in these areas. That’s entirely sensible, as large quantities of dirty smoke from fires and stoves in a built up area can quickly lead to very high levels of dust and pollutants.
There are several rules people have to follow if they live in a Smoke Control Area, one being that you can only burn a limited number of fuels. These are anthracite (a kind of clean coal), semi-anthracite, gas, and low-volatile steam coal. These substances burn clean, allowing for fewer pollutants to be released in each burn. There is a list of acceptable fuels here: https://smokecontrol.defra.gov.uk/fuels.php
However, there are exceptions to this rule, as some ‘smoke-free’ appliances are allowed to burn fuel of any kind. A visit to https://smokecontrol.defra.gov.uk/appliances.php allows you to check if your stove is one of these. To ensure people obey the rules, the Government has introduced a £1000 fine to anyone caught burning unauthorised fuel in a smoke-free area, so make sure you don't get caught out. To check if you live in a smoke-free zone use the Smoke Control Area Map- https://uk-air.defra.gov.uk/data/sca/ or contact your local council.
Using a Recoheat will drastically improve the efficiency of your stove
The other rule concerns the amount of smoke being released from your chimney. Now, this rule is slightly more vague, as it’s up to your local council to decide what ‘too much’ smoke is. You can be made to pay a penalty of up to £300 if they deem your chimney too active, so discretion is advised. The main thing to remember is that good wood with a moisture content below 20% burns extremely clean with very little smoke, so following normal good practice goes a long way towards meeting the requirements.
The good news is that most of the country isn't in a Smoke Control Area, so can go on burning as they usually would. Even so, burning clean fuel and well-dried wood is always essential, along with having your chimney swept frequently. Keeping the flue clean is crucial to ensuring that minimum creosote build-up occurs, thereby keeping the likelihood of a chimney fire to a minimum.
So despite what the news may tell you, there is no need to worry about your wood stove being banned. As long as you make sure to check the Smoke Control Area map, and use your stove responsibly you can avoid fines and go on heating your home as you always have.
And of course, if you want to make it vastly more efficient, fit a Recoheat!