Britain to phase out sale of coal and wet wood | Fieldfisher
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Britain to phase out sale of coal and wet wood



The UK government is phasing out the sale of both wet wood and house coal for domestic burning as it seeks to encourage the use of cleaner fuels in households.

Wet wood is a type of fuel usually in the form of undried fuel logs with a moisture content of at least 20%, which is burned in stoves and fireplaces. When burned, damp wood produces more smoke than dry logs. 

The ban is an effort to tackle tiny pollutants known as PM2.5, which can penetrate deep into the respiratory system and bloodstream and thus cause serious health problems.

Wood burning stoves and coal fires are the single largest source of PM2.5, contributing three times as much of the pollution as road transport, according to the UK's Department for the Environment (Defra).

The sale of wet wood and house coal will be phased out from 2021 to 2023, to give householders and suppliers time to move to cleaner alternatives such as dry wood and manufactured solid fuels. Sales of all bagged traditional house coal will be phased out by February 2021, and the sale of loose coal, delivered direct to customers via approved coal merchants will end by February 2023. Sales of wet wood in units of under two cubic metres will be restricted from sale from February 2021, to allow existing stocks to be used up. Wet wood sold in larger volumes will need to be sold with advice on how to dry it before burning from this date. Moreover, manufacturers of solid fuels will also need to show that the solid fuels have a very low sulphur content and only emit a small amount of smoke.

In a similar vein, Ireland recently extended the ban on smoky coal to all towns with a population over 10,000 persons. Commenting on the extension of the ban on 17 December 2019, the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton TD said, ''I am extending the ban based on evidence of poor air quality with seriously damaging effects on heath''. The Minister fell short of implementing a nationwide ban on smoky coal, as to do so would, ''carry a serious risk of illegality unless turf, peat and wet wood are also addressed''.
 Written by Barry Magee and Patrick Reilly

Areas of Expertise

Planning and Environmental