Are log burners going to be banned? - Grand Designs Magazine
A wood burning stove in a living room

Are log burners going to be banned?

There are new rules, but log burners aren’t going to be banned in the UK any time soon

By David Ludlow |

Log burners are a feature of many homes, providing not just warmth, but a delightful smell, alongside something nice to look at. When used in a single room, wood-burning stoves can even be cheaper to run than traditional central heating. New legislation has come into place, worrying some people who ask, are log burners going to be banned?

Are log burners going to be banned?

In short, wood burning stoves are not going to be banned. In the government’s Environmental Improvement Plan, which was published 31 January 2023, it clearly states: “We are not considering a ban on domestic burning in England. The UK government recognises that some households are reliant on solid fuel burning as a primary source for heating, hot water and cooking, with this in mind government is not seeking to ban burning. A ban on domestic outdoor burning (bonfires, barbecues, firepits etc.) would also be considered disproportionate.”

The government recognises that burning wood decreases air quality, significantly adding particulate matter (PM2.5), which can cause breathing problems, lung cancer, and heart damage.

What are the new rules?

Under the new plans, the government wants to tackle the smoke output from stoves. The report states that the government wants to “tighten the limits that new stoves in Smoke Control Areas must meet, reducing the limit from 5g of smoke per hour to a maximum of 3g”.

That means that stoves will have to output even less smoke than they do now. Note that the legislation states that this is for “new stoves in Smoke Control Areas”, and does not apply to existing log burners that have already been fitted. There’s also no date on when this new legislation will come into effect.

Many existing stoves that you can buy already conform to the lower limits imposed. If you’re thinking of upgrading or having a log burner fitted it would make sense to choose an efficient one that’s compatible with the proposed legislation.

Smoke control areas

Rules also only apply to homes in smoke control areas, which are mostly located in cities. DEFRA provides a map showing where all of the areas are. Those who live in a smoke control area must meet rules, which include having an exempt wood-burning and multi-fuel stove (those that output harmful material below a certain level), and they must also use approved fuels.

These include ready-to-burn wood, which has been dried, and smokeless fuels. This is because wet wood doesn’t burn as efficiently and creates more smoke. Wet wood can still be bought in bulk but is suitable only for people who have sufficient outdoor space to season it.

Failing to follow the rules can result in a £300 penalty if your chimney outputs smoke in a smoke control area, and you can face a fine of up to £1000 for burning unauthorised fuels.

For anyone with a log burner, it’s important to burn wood efficiently, both to maximise the heat effect and to reduce air pollution.