Is Wood Burning a Major Contributor to UK Pollution?

Back in March this year I wrote about reports in the media relating to poor air quality in Jim LambethLondon following Britain’s failure to prevent nitrogen dioxide levels exceeding EU limits since 2010.  In addition, dangerous levels of particulate emissions had been highlighted, making the whole issue even more complex.

By the end of September further TV news features and newspaper articles relating to air quality headlined once again following statements from London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, but this time he declared that ‘expert opinion’ suggested wood burning in London was a major concern and that he was looking to introduce tighter curbs on wood burning stoves.  
At the same time the media started to report that wood-burning pizzerias were being targeted as a source of air pollution.  (Indeed, the last copy of this newsletter contained a feature highlighting the risk to this sector of the restaurant industry should these proposals go ahead.)  Of course, ‘Clean Air London’ welcomed the Mayor’s proclamations whilst the Green Party back his efforts to tackle all sources of pollution.

Strangely, no-one owns up to the fact that wood is not permitted to be burned in a Smoke Control Area, unless on an ‘exempted appliance’, yet all of London is smokeless under the Clean Air Act - but is not policed by the Local Authorities.

At the time of writing this piece Sadiq Khan is once again on our TV screens with the introduction of additional ‘Toxic Charges’ for pre-2006 registered vehicles entering the London Congestion Zone, whilst simultaneously pointing the finger at wood burning and continuing to quote the same ill-informed propaganda issued earlier in the Spring.

Is Wood Burning a Major Contributor to UK PollutionI appreciate these shenanigans within the M25 will not directly concern many readers, but any proposed tightening of Clean Air Regulations in London will certainly be applied to all other areas of the UK where long standing Smoke Control Orders apply. Remember, air quality monitoring throughout the UK has been on-going for some time and pollution ‘hot-spots’ have been identified in all major conurbations.

Unless some common sense prevails the environmental lobby will pressure the Government to place restrictions on the sale and usage of wood-burners in your neighbourhood, despite protestations from Dennis Milligan, Head of Communications for The Stove Industry Alliance, stating that modern EcoDesign Ready Stoves have much improved performance and significantly reduced emission levels.

As reported previously, I suspect a covert strategy is being employed in order to deflect attention away from the massive traffic based pollution issue which is a virtually impossible problem to resolve in the short-term.  The stove industry is clearly viewed by some as a soft target.  Perhaps all those involved in the stove industry should lend their support to the SIA and consider exerting political pressure where possible.


By Jim Lambeth

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