THE UK Government has confirmed plans to phase out the sale of wet firewood and coal for domestic burning in England.

Wet firewood and coal will be phased out between 2021 and 2023, giving suppliers and the public time to move to alternatives such as dry wood and manufactured solid fuels.

Sales of wet wood in units of under 2 m³ will be restricted from February 2021, allowing existing stocks to be used up. From this date, wet wood sold in volumes greater than 2 m³ will need to be sold with advice on how to dry it before burning.

Wood-burning stoves and coal fires are the single largest source of pollutant PM2.5, which consists of tiny particles that find their way into the body’s lungs and blood.

The announcement by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is in line with Confor’s response to the government consultation on domestic burning.

Caroline Ayre, national manager for England for Confor, said: “Processing and seasoning high-quality firewood is an important business for many of our members. We recommend customers buy local – burn local, and choose firewood with the Woodsure Ready to Burn label.

“Local firewood not only supports UK jobs and the rural economy, it is also crucial to managing our native woodlands. This is vital to ensure these woodlands’ health and existence as carbon stores and biodiversity habitats for the long term.

“Buying local, seasoned firewood also helps to protect our woodlands from invasive pests, which can be imported on wet wood.”

Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “Cosy open fires and wood-burning stoves are at the heart of many homes up and down the country, but the use of certain fuels means that they are also the biggest source of the most harmful pollutant that is affecting people in the UK. By moving towards the use of cleaner fuels such as dry wood we can all play a part in improving the health of millions of people.

“This is the latest step in delivering on the challenge we set ourselves in our world-leading Clean Air Strategy. We will continue to be ambitious and innovative in tackling air pollution from all sources as we work towards our goal to halve the harm to human health from air pollution by 2030.”