**Scroll down for full explainer video**
New rules start coming into force from May 1st, 2021 regarding the sale of fire wood and logs.
There’s a lot of misunderstanding about what it means for people, but it’s actually quite straightforward.
Q: What’s Changing on May 1st, 2021?
A: From this date, places like supermarkets, petrol stations, DIY stores and larger fuel suppliers will only be able to sell bags or nets of logs which are ‘Ready To Burn’. This is a government backed scheme which certifies that the wood you buy is able to be used straight away.
Q: But doesn’t this happen already?
A: Hmm… well it’s a bit of a mixed picture. Many customers buy small quantities of logs assuming they are ready to use, but are in fact not. These logs haven’t been dried or seasoned so, when burnt, struggle to ignite, give off no heat, create excessive amounts of smoke and therefore pollution. The government is keen to improve air quality and believes these new rules will help.
Q: So is the sale of wet wood being banned entirely?
A: No. Wet/unseasoned wood will still be able to be bought from official points of sale, provided it is sold in a two cubic metre load or above. The government has instructed suppliers of wet wood to give customers a note explaining it is wet and not ready to use until seasoned.
There is also the added complication that some smaller suppliers (defined as those who sell less than 600 cubic metres per year) will still be able to sell unseasoned logs in nets and bags until the end of April, 2022. The reason is to give smaller sellers more time to adjust to the changes.
But as of May 1, 2022, ALL suppliers selling in quantities of under two cubic metres would only be able to sell Ready To Burn logs. This is the date when all smaller quantity sales of wet wood would be banned completely.
Q: Do these new rules on wood mean we’ll finally stop hearing scare stories about woodburners?
A: That’s a nice thought, but restricting the sale of wet wood alone is not the ‘silver bullet’ some believe. The hard truth is that you can have then best fuel, on the best stove, on the best chimney system money can buy – but if you don’t know how to operate your stove properly, it will still cause issues.
There is also a fear that regulation will simply drive some log sales ‘underground’. And then there’s all the eBay/Facebook Marketplace sales of freshly cut logs which will never be properly controlled.
Q: So how can I ensure I’m burning in a responsible way?
A: Assuming your fuel is dry and ready to burn, then first and foremost, it’s a good idea to read the stove instruction manual and familiarise yourselves with you stove’s air controls. Then make a date to get your chimney swept.
A good, knowledgeable sweep will be able to give you plenty of hints and tips to save you money, get more heat from your fuel and also help you burn in a responsible way.
In the meantime, the Burnright website has got some great information on this.
Q: So what does all this mean for the future?
A: There are some who believe these new rules are necessary. However, I’ve long argued that these measures are a sledgehammer to crack a nut. We cannot legislate our way out of this, but we can educate.
I still remain to be convinced that this will not do anything other than promote the kiln drying of wood at the expense more environmentally-friendly seasoning.
Most kiln dried logs are manufactured on mainland Europe. Some kilns are fired with wet logs (oh the irony!). The dried out logs are then loaded onto a truck and sent hundreds of miles to the UK. When put like that, it doesn’t seem the most environmentally responsible method, does it?
Some more sceptical industry insiders think that once log sales are regulated, it will be an easy target for so-called ‘green taxes’. Given the massive black hole in our economy due to the pandemic, a Chancellor looking to help balance the books would see this as relatively low hanging fruit.
It’ll be interesting to see how the next few years pan out, that’s for sure…
Mr Soot Chimney Sweep is a fully qualified sweep and a member of the Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps, based in the Manchester and South Lancs area