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Guidance for chimney sweeps on the government’s “call for evidence”

Major changes are taking place in the solid fuel industry. The Government is currently undertaking a ‘Call For Evidence’ on domestic burning.

It’s important that, as a professional chimney sweep, you contribute to this before February 27th.

Have Your Say at:  https://consult.defra.gov.uk/airquality/domestic-burning-of-wood-and-coal/

 

woodburning stove and pollution

 

Background

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has issued a “call for evidence” from anyone involved in the solid fuel industry. Next month they intend to publish the government’s “Clean Air Strategy” which will outline government plans to deal with air pollution from all sources. There will then be an industry consultation period in the summer, we are told as early as June.

The Issue

We are keen to ensure that any legislation or guidance which comes out of this process tackles the real issue. Some reports suggest that there is a large emphasis being place on ‘wet wood’. While this is an issue, we as sweeps know it is not the main factor in air pollution; rather it is more a case of the consumer not understanding how to work their stove correctly.

What does this all mean?

It means you have a rare and vital opportunity to have your say. As professional chimney sweeps, we are uniquely placed to help shape Government policy for the better. We know the stoves, we know the burning habits, and we know the issues. Other parts of the solid fuel industry – stove manufacturers, fuel merchants, suppliers to the industry etc – will also be having their say. That’s why it’s important we seize this opportunity, otherwise our voice will not be heard.

What You Should Do

The ‘call for evidence’ ends on February 27th. Time is running out, so have your say today via https://consult.defra.gov.uk/airquality/domestic-burning-of-wood-and-coal/ The link to the survey is at the bottom of the Defra’s page.

In the Call For Evidence, state that you are a Professional Chimney Sweep

There is a section for general comments at Question 36. We have prepared a suggested comment for you to make / copy in the General comments for question 36, Please use it in your reply if you wish. It will help solve the actual problem with wood burning which the rest of the industry is currently overlooking. (fuel suppliers, appliance manufacturers, fuel approval schemes):

Suggested comment for question 36. Please use or edit as desired.

“As a professional chimney sweep, I know that burning wet wood is a waste of money, clogs up a chimney and causes unnecessary pollution. Although wet wood is an issue, most consumers can be influenced to alter their supplier, the storage etc. and once the benefits are experienced, they tend to keep on the right track.

“I am concerned that too great a focus is being placed on the issue of burning wet wood, the real extent of which is not known. What I do know is that the majority of stoves in the country are capable of having the air supply “closed off” too much by the user, leading to inhibited combustion and unnecessary pollution. Due to a lack of consumer awareness this is a common practice. I regularly see the evidence of this poor combustion when cleaning chimneys. It does not matter how dry the wood is, if the user is “closing off” the air, the problem will remain. A much greater emphasis should be placed on consumer awareness of stove operation in order to influence burning habits. Once the customer understands the issue and the benefits, their habits change. I am concerned that if the focus remains on wet wood, this larger and significantly more polluting issue will be overlooked and any possible “wet wood” policy or legislation will not fix the problem.

For the medium and long term I would like to see meaningful regulatory and testing processes force the design of wood burning appliances so that only super efficient low polluting appliances may be installed. Appliances like these are mandatory in countries that lead the way with PM emissions from this source.”

If you want to send an email or written reply please see details below.

by email: Air.Quality@defra.gsi.gov.uk

or by writing to:

Local Air Quality Team
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Area 2C, Nobel House
17 Smith Square
LONDON SW1P 3JR