European Commission behind UK restrictions on wood-burning stoves

In what many see as further fallout from the Brexit negotiations, the European Commission is threatening to take the UK government to court after apparently conveniently breaching European laws on emissions. A potentially enormous fine hangs over the UK authorities which many believe is behind recent press comments regarding a “ban on wood-burning stoves”. There is little talk of coal fires or power stations which pump tons of harmful emissions into the atmosphere. At the moment it seems to be targeted towards wood-burning stoves with little in the way of evidence to back up some wild claims.

 

Improved efficiencies

When you bear in mind the modern day wood-burning stove has an efficiency rating of around 80%, which means that only 20% of the fuel energy input into a stove is lost when transferred to heat, this does not give the impression of inefficiencies. The average coal fire is around 30% efficient with up to 70% of fuel energy lost while creating heat for homes. This is before we even look at the emissions created by even the most efficient of coal fires.

Stoves today have a primary, secondary and even tertiary burn system which ensures that not only is the fuel burnt in an efficient manner but the emissions are burnt again and again to create more heat. This process obviously reduces the final emissions which escape up the flue and into the atmosphere. The European Union itself has also brought in an eco-design policy which many stove manufacturers in the UK already abide by despite the fact it is some time before it becomes law.

All efficiencies requested in the past have been addressed, the fuel used in a wood-burning stove is carbon neutral in its lifetime and for many people in the countryside a stove heating and boiler system is often the only viable source of heat.

 

Following the Americans

Some call it decentralisation, some might call it passing the buck, but it looks as though the UK government is going to give local authorities more control over local air quality. As ever, politicians in the UK are keen to curry favour with their American counterparts and unelected EU politicians. So, on so-called “no burn days” local authorities will be able to ban the use of wood-burning stoves, coal fires (although this has not attracted anywhere near the same attention as wood-burning stoves) and even bonfires. So, the kids may be in for a disappointing bonfire night this year!

 

Is this nothing but a cunning smoke screen?

The reality is that governments in recent times have pushed the use of wood-burning stoves paying particular attention to their green credentials. The ability to burn wood which creates the same level of carbon emissions when burnt as it digests when growing was hailed as a major selling point. Could it be that the government did not expect such a spectacular uptake in the use of wood-burning and multifuel stoves? Are they simply after their slice of the pie, more income?

There is no way any government would seriously contemplate the banning of wood-burning stoves but they will contemplate additional taxes. As a means of deflecting recent criticism of UK air quality it seems that wood-burning stoves are to blame for everything. In the past forestry investment and the use of wood fuel attracted various tax breaks but these have diminished over the years. Might we see local authorities and central government introducing levies on wood-burning stoves as a means of offsetting “emissions”?

 

Summary

It is bizarre in the extreme to think that air pollution in the UK is being laid fairly and squarely at the door of the wood-burning stove industry. Governments conveniently ignore coal powered power stations, the harmful emissions from diesel and petrol vehicles and the limited progress in pushing electric cars. Even then, fuel used in future electric cars will be power by “dirty fuel” power stations for many years to come.

The word smokescreen is used far too frequently in politics but it does look as though this ongoing sustained attack on the wood-burning stove industry is just that, a smokescreen.

This article was written by Mark Benson who works for www.bowlandstoves.co.uk. The company offers an array of wood burning and multi-fuel stoves together with spares and accessories.

 

By Mark Benson

 

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