A defence of Wood Burning Stoves impact on Air Quality: 2/2

What about the concern in London over wood burning stoves?

It has been assumed that the statements made previously about clean air in London have come from the DEFRA report.
When digging a little deeper, the report is principally a “modelled report” this means it has been calculated from known data and then extrapolated to give the figures for the report.
The methodology which lies behind this report is the “UK Emissions Mapping Methodology 2015.”

This can be downloaded at: https://uk-air.defra.gov.uk/library/reports?report_id=946

The methodology in this report uses the Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) report Summary Results of the “Domestic Wood Use Survey”.  For anyone reading down to this level, you will find the split between Wood burning Stoves and other sources of wood burning such as open fires.

The table below shows the split between Wood burning Stoves in Orange and Open Fires in Blue. Now we can see London’s problem. There are not enough Modern Wood burning stoves. It has the smallest percentage in the UK at only 26%.

The domestic wood survey breaks down more interesting data by appliance type and age, fuel supply and region. The data shows that the average efficiency of the UKs open fires is only 17.35%. So the Wood burning Stove industry could play a massive part in re-educating the public and installing modern Wood burning Appliances which could potentially provide anything up to 80% efficiency!

Updated information:

Daily air quality maps of the UK can be accessed through: https://uk-air.defra.gov.uk/
This shows the daily state of air quality in the UK. This is split into Low/Moderate/High and Very High. The UKs air quality is normally in the Low section showing good quality of air as indicated by Green colouring.

Other reports:

There are other reports by the World Health Organisation, British Medical Journal and various reports in Australia, Canada and the USA. These all attribute wood burning as the major pollutant of PM 2. 5. The reports all fail to breakdown the mix of open fires, older wood burning stoves and the new generation of appliances fitted with secondary burn and meeting either Ecolabelling or their own countries equivalent.

Other factors:

There are now a considerable amount of BBQs, Chimineas and Open Fire pits sold in the UK. These are 100% inefficient when it comes to carbon monoxide and PM 2.5 emissions. They release all pollutants straight into the atmosphere and into the lungs of anyone using them!  These are all burnt at low level and more research should be done by DEFRA to calculate the effect of these on emissions along with open fires and produce separate data for each Industry they are trying to monitor.

Further good news on this topic comes from Sadiq Khan and DEFRA recognising the proactive response taken by our industry to help improve air quality. A number of initiatives such as the Stove Industry’s Eco Design ready label and Woodsure’s Ready to Burn scheme are now being welcomed by the government.

DEFRA – Call for Evidence

DEFRA has now published a call for evidence seeking information on the use of solid fuels such as house coal, manufactured solid fuel and wood for domestic heating, and the impact that changes to the availability of these fuels would have on consumers and businesses.

The range of options considered by the government are listed below:

  • Encouraging consumers to switch from house coal by only allowing the sale of low sulphur smokeless alternatives
  • switching from wet wood to dry wood
  • the introduction of sulphur limits for all smokeless solid fuels
  • and new powers for local authorities to take action for persistent smoke offences where local amenity is harmed

The government is not considering banning domestic burning, and is not seeking to prevent the use or installation of wood-burning stoves

The full call for evidence can be viewed at: https://consult.defra.gov.uk/airquality/domestic-burning-of-wood-and-coal/

DEFRA is welcoming responses from anyone with an interest in the solid fuel industry. We reccommend that anyone with any evidence should give what they can as this could have a big impact on the industry in the years to come. This closes on the 27th February 2018.


The reduction of Particle matter and all emissions must remain at the forefront of our design changes. We must continue to innovate and improve the efficiency and emissions of our appliances.
We must defend our industry through challenging data and providing our own for DEFRA and others to use when they present their modelling. We need to take responsibility to explain to our own individual MPs that our Industry has been doing our part to improve emissions. That we are a major part of reducing the UKs carbon emissions as supported by academic research.
That we are now uniquely placed with new ECO labelled appliances to replace inefficient open fires and help to further reduce Carbon emissions and Particle matter.


  • Department for Farming and Rural Affairs – Air Pollution in the UK 2016
  • Air Quality Expert Group – Fine Particle Matter (PM 2.5) in the United Kingdom
  • National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory 2015 – UK Emission Mapping Methodology
  • Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy – Summary Results of the Domestic wood use Survey

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