Avoiding the hazards of open fires and wood-burning stoves

Wood burning stove with fire

There is increasing concern amongst air quality and health experts about the impact that wood-burning stoves and open fireplaces can have on indoor and outdoor air pollution and your health.

As a result, the Government introduced new restrictions on fuel sales, and greater enforcement powers under the Environment Act 2021 and Clean Air Act.

The Council are also helping and advising people on the correct way to use their wood burners especially as we head into that colder time of year.

The local authority’s website contains lots of useful information on using wood burners so you can look after your own health and that of your families, and also protect the environment.

Wood-burning stoves and open fires can be hazardous to your health especially if not used correctly, for example by burning the incorrect fuel (such as painted or treated wood) or using damp/wet wood that has not been properly dried.

Cllr Abdul Khan, Deputy Council Leader at Coventry City Council, said; “There are simple steps that people can take, and I’d encourage anyone who is unsure to check out the details on the Council’s website.”

Using a wood burner is not cheaper than conventional heating methods and burning waste or the incorrect fuels can cause long-term damage to your wood burner as well as your health. Not only is there a serious health concern, but you may also be committing an offence under the Clean Air Act 1993 if smoke is emitted from your chimney*. Following the checklist on our website (Winter warmth: wood burners checklist) and ensuring that the correct fuel is used will reduce the smoke and toxins emitted by the wood burner and reduce the risk to health.

If you are worried about being able to keep your home warm this winter, the Keeping Coventry Warm Scheme is here to provide you with support. Keeping Coventry Warm provides Coventry residents with free energy-saving advice and information. Support can include; energy bill support, support with tariff switching, grants for vulnerable and low-income residents for boiler repairs/replacements, energy-saving advice and more. Act on Energy can also check your eligibility for other grants including the Home Upgrade Grant which can support low-income, energy-efficient, off-gas properties with grants for free energy efficiency measures such as wall/roof insulation, low carbon heating and solar panels. Contact Act on Energy for free on 0800 988 2881, Monday to Friday, 9 am-5 pm or email at advice@actonenergy.org.uk.

* Smoke Control Areas have been designated to cover all of Coventry and under this legislation, it is an offence to allow a fireplace including any installed burner/appliance to generate significant amounts of smoke. The penalty for this offence upon successful prosecution is a fine of up to £1000.

For details visit: coventry.gov.uk/woodburning

Published: Tuesday, 7th November 2023

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