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DEFRA issue guidance on burning wood and coal

A wood-burning stove in a brick fireplace with a tiled floor

Published: Monday, 18th December 2017

We're urging residents who heat their homes or businesses by burning wood or coal to take note of DEFRA’s guidance.

The use of open fires and wood-burning stoves has risen in popularity over the last few years, and domestic wood- and coal-burning are now the largest contributions to harmful particle emissions; making up around 40% of the total in 2015.

DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs) has issued advice on how to minimise the negative effect that burning wood and coal may have on air quality.

Fuel use

  • Consider burning less – is the fire being lit necessary? Could less fuel be used?
  • Buy ‘Ready to Burn’ fuel – wood that bears the Woodsure Ready to Burn logo is guaranteed to be good quality dry wood that can be burned immediately.
  • Season freshly chopped wood – wet wood contains moisture which creates smoke and harmful particulates when burned, so it should be allowed to dry for two years.
  • Use approved smokeless fuels – they produce less carbon and smoke compared to house-coal, and provide more heat, so are more economical.
  • Don’t burn treated waste wood or household rubbish – treated waste wood like old furniture can emit harmful fumes and household rubbish can release toxic pollutants when burned.


  • Stoves should be regularly maintained and serviced, and chimneys should be regularly swept.

Smoke control areas

Cllr Ian Devereux, cabinet member for Environment, said: “Open fires and wood-burning stoves are more popular than ever, especially at this time of year. We’re asking everyone to take note of DEFRA’s guidance on burning wood and coal, and help to improve our borough’s air quality. Better air quality means less health problems like asthma and other breathing problems. The three simple steps you can take to help are thinking whether you need to burn; burning seasoned wood (including Ready to Burn); maintaining stoves and sweeping chimneys regularly”.

Read DEFRA's full guidance on burning wood and coal.

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