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Coal and wet-log fuel to be banned from UK homes in clean-air drive

By Hazel Davis

Sales of traditional house coal to be phased out by 2021

The UK government has announced that it plans to phase out sales of traditional house coal and wet wood in an attempt to improve air quality.

Sales of bagged traditional house coal will be phased out by February 2021 and the sale of loose coal direct to customers will end by 2023. Sales of wet wood in small units will stop from February 2021. Wet wood in volumes greater than 2m3 will be sold with advice on how to dry it before burning.

The staged measures will give householders and suppliers time to move to cleaner alternatives such as dry wood and manufactured solid fuels.

Wet, or green/unseasoned, wood is cheaper than dry wood and contains moisture which, when burned, generates more smoke and harmful particles than dry wood. It is also more likely to damage chimneys by allowing tar and soot to build up. Dry wood has a moisture content of less than 20 per cent.

The BBC reports that around 1.5m UK homes currently use wood for fuel but says that burning wood and coal in open fires and stoves makes up 38 per cent of the UK's emissions of tiny particle pollutants known as PM2.5.

Though more expensive in the short term, smokeless fuel can be more cost-effective due to its longer burning rates and better heat output. Under the new measures, makers of any replacement solid fuels will need to demonstrate a very low sulphur content and low smoke emissions.

FURTHER READING: Should investors be thinking about climate change?

FURTHER READING: German cabinet backs move to end coal power by 2038

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