Wood fuel specialist Logs Direct is supporting the growing number of British homeowners doing nothing wrong by burning wood as fuel, and yet increasingly victimised by pressure groups.
Customers – particularly those in older age groups - have reported feeling threatened and alarmed by misinformation in the public domain and even communications that have urged homeowners to report their neighbours to the environmental health department, if they smell any wood burning. The result has been that they have not been heating their homes.
For those in older generations – and those feeling vulnerable within their community – the real situation regarding woodburning is unclear. Pressure is being applied on them despite there being nothing illegal about burning the right wood. This is defined as that which carries an official Ready to Burn certification mark, having been through Defra testing, or that which has been seasoned correctly.
The dilemma for those confused by all of this is whether to heat their home or suffer the cold. Many are afraid of the aggressive action that might occur, if anyone detects they are burning wood. Woodburner sales increased significantly in the energy crisis, to give homeowners a means of coping financially. If afraid to now use this heating source, many may go without a source of heat.
The anti-woodburning campaigners also fail to recognise, or mention, that the CO2 generated by gas burning in actually far higher than that of woodburning – 0.210mg of CO2 per kWh for gas and just 0.024mg for Ready to Burn kiln dried logs.[i]
Much of the misinformation being spread about woodburning quotes old research studies, references non-British situations and does not present accurate facts. Nevertheless, it is causing worry and concern to many woodburner owners.
What is typically absent is any discussion about the difference between burning wet wood and Ready to Burn wood. Broad-brush statements about ‘wood’ in general, offer no clarity as to where issues with woodburning actually lie.
The call for the reporting of woodburning is likely to overburden environmental health departments. The majority of cases will relate to residents who are completely abiding with Clean Air regulations and operating fully within Defra and government laws. Officers’ attention will be diverted from real environmental issues.
Studies that have suggested that woodburning is such an environmental issue include all forms of ‘woodburning’, including outdoor bonfires, gardeners’ fires and other, including industrial, outdoor fires. Not understanding this then leads to all woodburning in indoor domestic situations being labelled as detrimental to health. This is despite indoor burning using ready to burn fuel and outdoor burning using wet, unseasoned and treated wood from building projects.
An independent study, conducted by Dr Josh Cottam and Dr Edward Mitchell, found that almost half of PM2.5 emissions in the UK, which were being categorised as coming from domestic burning, were actually coming from outdoor sources. Outdoor, not indoor, burning sources constitute 46-51% of domestic PM 2.5 emissions in the UK.[ii]
Logs Direct is now stepping up to offer support and reassurance to those elderly customers who could become victims of the aggressive campaigning. It says that, if this goes unchallenged, the result will be deaths this winter. These will be deaths of innocent people who could have legally heated their homes, without causing the health issues being claimed.
“Homeowners doing absolutely nothing wrong should not be subjected to this,” says Logs Direct’s sales director, Stephen Talbot. “Elderly people respect their communities and worry what others think and feel. They are reading these communications and suffering high levels of stress at the thought that they will be reported if any woodsmoke is detected.
“We are deep into winter and the danger is that elderly and confused people will be too afraid to stay warm. The misinformation being published is using general terms such as ‘wood’ and ‘woodburners’ without making it clear that the right wood – Ready to Burn or fully seasoned wood - and modern woodburners, are not the issue. It is ignorance over what to burn that is the problem.”
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