Households in England face fines of up to £300 and even a criminal record if they break new log burner rules.
A tightening of emissions regulations has reduced the amount of smoke new stoves can emit per hour from 5g to 3g.
It applies to homes in “smoke control areas” which cover most towns and cities in England. Anyone who violates the new measures could be fined on the spot.
The rules are part of the government’s new 25-year environmental plan.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the new measures were part of his government’s push to leave “the environment in a better state than we found it.”
In recent years, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has cracked down on wood burners and coal fires, as they are the biggest source of fine particulate matter (PM2. 5), small particles of air pollution that reach the lungs and the blood of the body.
Around 1.5 million households use wood for fuel across the UK; however, burning wood and charcoal in campfires and outdoor stoves accounts for 38% of UK PM2.5 emissions.
By comparison, 16% comes from industrial combustion, 12% from road transport and 13% from the use of solvents and industrial processes.
This means that a wood stove emits more particles per hour than a diesel truck.
As well as reducing the amount of PM2.5 that wood burners can emit, Defra said it will allow local authorities to “better enforce” smoke control areas.
They will be allowed to impose fines of up to £300 on homes whose chimneys emit too much smoke, and even start a criminal case if they don’t comply.
Under the 25-year plan, the government said it was tightening the rules rather than implementing an outright ban on burning fuels, as some households use them for heating and cooking.
But avoiding the ban is barbecues, campfires or bonfires, as doing so would be “disproportionate”, the government said.
In a bid to try to reduce particulates, the government last year banned the purchase of domestic coal and dampwood in England, two of the most polluting fuels, and urged the public to adopt “cleaner alternatives.”
As is already the case, homeowners can be fined up to £1,000 if they are found to be burning unauthorized fuels. You can find a list of authorized fuels in each of the four UK nations on the government website.
Client Earth, an NGO that has won pollution cases against the government, criticized the 25-year-old plan, writing on Twitter that it was full of “vague commitments” and that environmental laws already in place are at risk because of Brexit. .