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Wood-burning Stoves

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 12th February 2020.

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Photo of Munira Wilson Munira Wilson Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Transport), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Health and Social Care)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment her Department has made of the effect of wood burning stoves on air quality.

Photo of Rebecca Pow Rebecca Pow The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Defra assesses air quality in the UK through a combination of monitoring and modelling, as well as through the development and upkeep of a National Atmospheric Emissions inventory (NAEI). The NAEI is compiled annually to report total emissions by pollutant and source sector in a systematic way, and to facilitate compliance with our emissions reduction targets.

Emissions from domestic combustion using wood as fuel have increased by 70 per cent since 2005. As recognised by the Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants, particulate matter is particularly harmful for health and the environment. The most recently published data from the NAEI shows that domestic combustion using wood as fuel accounted for 36 per cent of primary emissions of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in 2017. We will publish the next annual update of the NAEI, with data for 2018, in the coming weeks.

Wood burning stoves and coal fires are now the single largest contributor to our national emissions of particulate matter. We are already taking steps to tackle emissions from domestic burning. The Environment Bill currently before Parliament contains measures to reduce emissions from domestic solid fuel burning, the single largest contributor of fine particulate matter emissions. It will create a simpler mechanism for local authorities seeking to reduce smoke emissions within their areas.

Additionally, in line with the Clean Air Strategy, Defra has consulted on the cleaner domestic burning of solid fuels and wood. We expect to publish the Government response to this consultation in the near future.

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