The subject of environmental protection lies at the heart of our business, so much so, that one of our core values is ‘Environment and Sustainability. We have committed to doing everything we possibly can to keep a focus on the needs of the environment whilst striving to achieve carbon neutrality.
We have done a lot over the last twelve months to deliver on this promise. More solar panels have been added, a new wax storage tank for Flamers production has been installed to reduce our energy input, and we have also changed one of our old diesel forklifts for a new electric. We also continue to plant more trees in order to add to the woodland space in the UK.
When we read the government’s First revision of the 25 year Environment Plan released yesterday, we were encouraged by it and we are confident that as a business we are well placed to do our bit in many of the key categories listed, and are committed to do more.
Target revision: Using Resources from Nature Sustainably
The government has placed a special emphasis on this category, and it is encouraging to see that the the original target has been stretched and is now planning for 16.5% of England to be trees and woodland by 2050. The previous plan was aiming for the target of 12% by 2050. To achieve this new target, 30,000 hectares of trees per year are to be planted across the UK by the end of this Parliament.
Our own experience of tree planting over the last few years has been difficulty to do so, due to so much red tape and too many obstacles being placed in the way of progress. The plan confirms that within the England Trees Action Plan, the commitment will be to “improve the regulatory processes to make tree planting simpler, quicker and more attractive option for land managers on lower productivity land, while retaining strong environmental and biosecurity safeguards”. We hope this holds true!
Target revision: Clean Air
It is within this category that there is the biggest focus in terms of wood burning and you may have seen our previous blogs on this topic about particulate emissions from wood burning stoves. We have been working closely with the SIA (Stove Industry Alliance) as well as the government to deliver the true facts about woodburning.
As part of the government’s Environment Plan which was launched in 2018, the Clean Air Strategy was launched in 2019 and this strategy led to banning the sale of smoky coal and wet wood by law in May 2021.
Whilst there is a major focus on emissions, it is encouraging to read that “between 2010 and 2020 emissions of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) decreased by 18%; emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) decreased by 44%; sulphur dioxide (SO2) by 70%, nonmethane volatile organic compounds (NMVOC) by 14%, and ammonia (NH3) by 0.2%. These reductions have produced significant benefits for our health and environment”.
The report continues to say that “to continue to drive down emissions we will need to focus on the most polluting sectors. Data from 2020 indicates that, in the UK, emissions from the home, agriculture, industry and transport combined contributed 85% of PM2.5, 87% of NO2 and 90% of NH3 emissions to the air.”
Based on the above findings, it is clear that the government recognises that some way of burning are more harmful than others, which is why it clearly states on page 81 that “We are not considering a ban on domestic burning in England. The UK government recognises that some households are reliant on solid fuel burning as a primary source for heating, hot water and cooking, with this in mind government is not seeking to ban burning. A ban on domestic outdoor burning (bonfires, barbecues, firepits etc.) would also be considered disproportionate.
It is good to see that they highlight the point we have been consistently emphasising over the last few years, in that “burning a dry log can reduce emissions by 50% compared to a log which has not been dried”.
To further reduce emissions the government sets out further plans:
- smoke emission limits for Smoke Control Areas will be cut from 5g to a maximum of 3g per hour, a measure that is welcomed by the Stove Industry Association (SIA). With the industry’s ongoing commitment to a continuous improvement this means that a large number of appliances in production (g. many ClearSkies levels 4 and 5 certified appliances) already meet this new target, and manufacturers are well placed to the challenge of ensuring that all new appliances will comply.
- It will extend the solid fuels legislation to include outdoor burning. This will help to provide consistency in the market making it easier for consumers to choose the right fuel, improve compliance with legislation and improve air quality. It will not, however, make any changes to traditional outdoor burning fuels such as charcoal.
- It will design and implement new measures to drive a move away from older, more polluting stoves to new appliances which meet the new emissions standards.
In addition, local authorities will be given more power to better enforce Smoke Control Areas – areas where additional restrictions apply on domestic burning – including through the issuing of fines under a civil regime and by pursuing persistent offenders under a criminal regime.
Finally, as part of this plan, Defra have committed to continue with communication campaigns to promote best practise in use of wood burning stoves and fireplaces in using cleaner and more efficient fuels, and techniques to reduce exposure to pollutants. It will also publish guidance on best practice for outdoor burning which will add the benefit of reducing the risk of wildfires as set in the ‘Reduced risk of harm from environmental hazards’ chapter of the plan.
As a conclusion, we are pleased to say that the Stove Industry Association is doing a brilliant job in continuing to improve standards for wood burning. It is leading the government in reducing particulate emissions and taking a sensible proportionate approach to wood burning. We are pleased to already be a playing a part in adding to this cleaner and more planet positive move and we will continue to search for ways to bring better practices within our own organisation as more solutions become available.
3rd Feb 2023