Workers in the wood-burning stove industry have said that “thousands of people” will lose their jobs if the government phases out wood-burning stoves. 

The impact on such workers is one of the factors behind the review announced this week by the Scottish Government into the controversial New Build standards which were in April and interpreted to amount to a ban on wood-burning stoves. 

“As soon as stoves are phased out,” said stove-fitter Ivor Clelland, “I’ll lose my shop. I’ll lose everything. There are no two ways about it. I’ve got nothing to fall back on.

Though the Scottish Government has repeatedly said that the standards are not a "blanket ban" and only apply to new builds, which even then are allowed stoves in particular circumstances, many within the stove industry as a sign of direction of travel. 

The Scottish stove industry is worth approximately £60 million annually and supports over 2000 jobs across Scotland. The impact on this sector was described by Scottish Conservative, Racheal Hamilton who triggered the announcement of the review with a topical question in parliament.

 “Last week, the Scottish Conservatives met with 40 businesses and industry experts to hear about the impact of this ban. One company noted that since this ban they have seen their first month with zero installations.” 

No mention is made specifically of wood-burning stoves in the recent Heat and Buildings consultation. However many within the stove industry saw no reason to believe they would not be phased out along with oil and gas boilers.

Chimney sweep, Simon Llewellyn said: “According to the Heat in Buildings consultation, the government is insisting that domestic properties to have all their heating changed, their gas or whatever, to heat pumps or other clean heating.

“When a house is sold the buyer has to change their heating system within a grace period of two to five years. That’s going to make it very undesirable to put in a stove. They’re no doubt hoping that lots of people will have that done before they sell the home to make it more sellable. It’s the big stick approach and it’s quite sinister, especially as using a wood burning stove for heating is a true asset for hitting proposed carbon dioxide targets.”

The Heat in Buildings consultation proposes that “all existing buildings” will be forced to shift from 'polluting' heating,  which includes both oil boilers and gas boilers to zero direct emissions heating by 2045.

The concern is that wood burning will be included as direct emissions, though stove advocates say it is "carbon neutral". Some studies however show the situation is more complex.

The consultation states that the trigger for change will be a new law requiring “those purchasing a property to comply with the prohibition on polluting heating within a specified amount of time following completion of the sale. A potential grace period, to have the new system installed, is proposed. It is suggested that two to five years after a property purchase may be appropriate. The proposal places no new obligations on sellers.”

Mr Llewellyn has participated in a campaign set up by the Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps. Whenever he visits a client, he drops by a postcard which they can send out to local MSPs.

The postcard says: “Please protect my right to use wood fuel for heating in Scotland. I am concerned about changes to regulations concerning wood-burning appliances. Wood burning appliances in new build homes - BANNED - Why? Wood burning appliances in new home extensions: What is the guidance to local authorities? The ‘Heat in Buildings Bill’ - not yet reported on. Will it stop me heating my home with wood?”

Mr Llewellyn said: “If these are dropping through MSPs letterboxes they’re going to trigger a bit more a response,” he said. “MSPs will realise there is something going on. And hopefully it’s making the public more involved with it. Because everyone will bleat and complain about it, if and when it happens, but now we’ve got an opportunity to have a say and voice.”

Support for the campaign, he observed, is coming from the rest of the United Kingdom. “What these manufacturers are seeing is that Scotland is the tip of the iceberg and there’s talk of it by the UK Government - so they want to nip it in the bud.”

“It’s not just me that will lose my livelihood,” said Ivor Clelland, “it’s thousands of people. It’s manufacturers, steel workers, a massive array. The guys who supply logs, the granite workers, the guys who make hearths and fireplaces There are so many aspects of this that are going to affect so many thousands of people.”.

Most of the jobs Mr Clelland does, he said, are budget packages, often in ex-council houses, for “mid-paid people, earning around £30,000 a year” and they are dependent upon them for heat.

“In recent years,” Mr Clelland said, “people have been getting electric heating in - ground source and air source - and they can’t afford to run them. So they actually use these stoves for their primary source of heat in these houses. They use their stoves because it’s cheaper than using electricity.”

The Scottish Government has been approached for comment.

This article originally appeared in our sister title, the Herald.