Log burners have increased in popularity over the last decade as Britons seek alternatives to help manage rising energy bills. Some 1.5 million homes in the UK use wood as a fuel source. Yet the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs says log burners are the biggest source of particles of air pollution, called fine particulate matter (PM2.5), damaging to people’s lungs and bloodstream.
The Government aims to limit how much PM2.5 wood burners emit to help councils “better enforce” smoke control areas and as part of a long-term plan to impose a blanket ban on burning fuels in the home.
The Government has instructed local authorities to issue on-the-spot civil penalties from £175 to £300 to households if their chimneys are emitting too much smoke. This can even lead to a criminal case if they fail to comply.
The rules apply to homes in “smoke control areas” which cover most of England’s towns and cities. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the measures were part of his Government’s drive to leave “the environment in a better state than we found it”.
In response, Express.co.uk ran a poll from 11.30am on Wednesday, February 1, to 3pm on Friday, February 3, asking readers: “Should households with non-compliant log burners be fined?”
Overall, 4,164 votes were cast, with the vast majority, 78 percent (3,264 people), answering “no” against a crackdown on log burners.
In contrast, 21 percent (863 people) said “yes” in support of the £300 fines, and a further one percent (37 people) said they did not know either way.
Dozens of comments were left below the accompanying article as readers shared their thoughts on penalising old-fashioned log burners.
Campaigners have also spoken out about the dangers of log burners. Andrea Lee from charity ClientEarth said: “Pollution from wood-burning is a growing source of fine particulate matter pollution in some areas, which is a serious threat to people’s health.”
Meanwhile, Green party co-leader Carla Denyer called for the Government to go further and ban the sale of log burners. She said: “Local authorities have powers to create smoke control areas in cities under the Environment Act 2021. This goes some way to preventing homeowners and businesses from releasing smoke from a chimney. However, there are exemptions for particular stoves and fuels which still mean dangerous particulates can be released into the atmosphere.
“We need an urgent review into the impacts of smoke from chimneys on public health in high-density housing areas, with a view to putting an end to future sales of log burners and fuels if they are shown to have an unacceptable detrimental impact.”
Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey ruled out a ban on wood-burning stoves but said some users did not understand the effects on the environment. She said: “I want an educational approach. We want people to do the right thing.”
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