Big-name retailers collaborate to spur uptake of clean domestic fuels

Several big-name retail brands including B&Q, Asda and Wickes have this week unveiled fresh measures to help consumers make the switch to low-carbon, smoke-free and energy-efficient home fuels.

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A string of big-name retail brands including B&Q, Asda and Wickes have this week unveiled fresh measures to help consumers make the switch to low-carbon, smoke-free and energy-efficient home fuels.

Defra revealed on Tuesday (16 October) that more than 50 companies have now joined its “Ready to Burn” scheme, which sees retailers commit to source and sell clean heating and cooking fuels in a bid to reduce carbon emissions and air pollution.

Among the latest signatories to the scheme is discount supermarket chain Lidl, which has this week committed to only selling wood that adheres to the Government’s “Woodsure” standards of dryness and sustainable sourcing across its 700 UK stores.

Similarly, Asda has removed non-kiln dried wood logs and house coal from all its London stores under the scheme, while Tesco and B&Q have launched new communications and staff training schemes to convey the benefits of clean fuels to customers.

The last of the new signatories is wholesale consumer goods firm Booker, which provides stock for newsagents and convenience stores across the UK. The company this week confirmed that “Ready to Burn” products will be incorporated into its autumn and winter product ranges for the first time.

“Burning dirty fuels to heat a home is a huge contributor to air pollution and I warmly welcome this commitment from retailers to help move consumers to burning cleaner fuels for this winter,” Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey said.

“I encourage all stores to follow their lead, and for all users to stop using wet wood and smoky coal to reduce the amount of harmful pollution to which they unwittingly expose themselves, their families and the environment.”

Adding fuel to the fire

The commitments come after the latest Government figures revealed that around 38% of the UK’s particulate matter emissions could be traced back to the burning of wood and coal in homes.

In a bid to tackle the issue, Defra’s “Ready to Burn” scheme was launched in May to bolster the Government’s Clean Air Strategy. The Strategy aims to crack down on a wide range of pollutants including ammonia emissions from farms and dust from vehicle tyres and brakes, as well as wet wood and coal burning in homes.

It includes goals to halve the number of people living in areas which breach the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) guideline limits for particulate matter pollution by 2025, and to eliminate the sale of “dirty” domestic fuels by 2022 by implementing new legislation.

The strategy has been backed by the likes of Environment Minister Michael Gove and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt – but shadow environment secretary Sue Hayman has accused the Government of “dragging its feet” by failing to set new laws through the strategy.

Sarah George

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Comments (1)

  1. Gerry Goldner says:

    Wood burning stoves are very popular. In a recent house-hunting couple of weeks, over half the semi-rural homes had these stoves.
    I do wonder if using the stoves would be breaking any regulations and if so how are the regulations enforced.
    And then we have Drax. Fired up on wood chips brought all the way from the rural parts of the USA and claiming to be a sustainable and renewable means of power generation.
    Which of these wood burning activities is the worse per tonne of heat or energy output the worst polluter?

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