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Solid fuel regulations

Restrictions on the sale of certain solid fuels

Are you 'Ready to Burn'?

Since 1 May 2021, the government has introduced new laws in the attempt to phase out the most polluting fuels and to improve air quality.The new laws apply to the sale of coal, wood and manufactured solid fuels.

The government are phasing out two of the most polluting fuels, traditional house coal and wet wood, to help improve air quality. The ‘Ready to Burn’ logo has been introduced to help customers choose less polluting alternatives, dry wood and manufactured solid fuels.

Manufactured solid fuels and wood sold for domestic use, including in smoke control areas, must meet the new requirements from 1 May 2021. The rules for wood are dependent on the amount sold, and all manufactured solid fuels must be certified for use to be legally sold.

Woodsure runs the ‘Ready to Burn’ scheme for firewood and HETAS runs the scheme for manufactured solid fuels.

Only approved coal merchants can legally sell traditional house coal between 1 May 2021 and 30 April 2023. Traditional house coal must be sold in loose or in unsealed bags. It will be illegal to see traditional house coal for use in homes in England from 1 May 2023.

How the changes affect your Business

If you sell firewood

Wood, when sold in quantities under 2 cubic metres (m³) must have a moisture content of not more than 20%.

The wood must have the following information on the packaging, beside the wood or next to the price

  • Supplier details.
  • Certification number, from an approved certification body.

The firewood must also be marked with a logo - 'Ready to Burn'.

For small foresters, selling quantities of less than 600 m³ per year, an exemption to comply with the law is in place until 1 May 2022.

For all quantities of firewood over 2 m³, the wood must be accompanied with a notice comprising the words specified below:

This wood is not suitable for burning until it has been dried. You should not burn wood until it has a moisture content of 20% or less. 

Wet wood contains moisture which creates smoke and harmful particulates when burnt. As well as being harmful to your health and the environment, this can damage your stove and chimney and is an inefficient way to heat your home. Dry it in a sunny, well-aired space for at least two years, keeping rain off in the winter. 

Radial cracks and bark that comes off easily suggests wood that is ready for burning. Test the wood when you think it is ready for burning, ideally with a moisture meter. First calibrate the meter and then measure a freshly split surface to get the best reading.

If you sell manufactured solid fuel

A “manufactured solid fuel” means a fuel produced from coal, wood, plant-derived materials, waxes or petroleum products with other ingredients. For the purpose of burning in domestic properties in England.

Fuels will need to be authorised and display the ‘Ready to Burn’ mark

These manufactured solid fuels are exempt from the certification requirements:

  • coffee logs
  • olive logs
  • wine logs
  • fuels where it’s mostly made of wheat husks, straw, miscanthus, bamboo or compressed food waste

If you sell house coal

From the 1 May 2021, domestic sales of coal can only continue when made by member of the approved coal merchant scheme. Details of members can be found by residents on the Solid Fuel Association website.

Coal Traders can contact the Solid Fuel Association to enquire about membership of the Approved Coal Merchants Scheme. However, please note that sales of bagged traditional house coal will be banned for domestic use from the 1 May 2023.

Traders will be urged to sell less-polluting fuels in the domestic setting such as smokeless coal (or anthracite) and low sulphur manufactured solid fuels for the purpose of domestic heating.

Further advice is available to businesses on the Business Companion website. Businesses can also contact Trading Standards for guidance via Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133.

How customers are affected

From now until 2023 the public will need to start moving towards cleaner, less smoky alternative fuels such as dry wood and manufactured solid fuels to help improve the air we breathe. These alternative, less polluting fuels may also be cheaper and more efficient to burn.

Burning wet wood can result in at least twice the amount of smoke emissions than that produced when seasoned or dry wood is burned. When wet wood is burned, the heat output is significantly lower.

In the case of wood and house coal purchases, residential customers should source suppliers of dried wood and buy coal from approved coal merchants. 

After 1 May 2023 house coal will not be available to buy but other types of coal, including anthracite, semi anthracite and low volatile steam coal will be available in addition to other manufactured sold fuels.

If you have any concerns about the way domestic firewood or solid fuel is being sold, please contact Trading Standards via Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133.

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