Action on Wood Fuel

Members will be aware of the press which has been generated in the past two days about Defra’s proposed actions to ban the burning of wet wood.
The Small Woods Association supports the principle of the change in regulation, as the medical evidence is overwhelming. Those who promote sustainable Woodland Management want to continue to be a positive contributor to society and eliminating these threats to human health is critical. A focus on dry wood will have a positive affect for all concerned, including the woodland management sector.
We will engage with government over the next year to look at how the changes will be brought in and how to help small wood fuel suppliers in the interim.
The proposals have been the subject of 2 rounds of consultation to which we responded, particularly focusing on the role played by small firewood operations in bringing woodlands back into management, as well as the role firewood plays in small forestry businesses and local (particularly rural) economies.
We are hopeful that these messages will weigh in the implementation of the proposals.
Following our consultation response the Defra officers responsible for this work approached us to gain a clearer understanding about the impacts of the regulatory change and the advice we gave them has influenced the regulatory impact work.
Our position was that any wood fuel operator should be able to provide dry wood, that the technology was relatively simple and the assurance systems were in place to support this.
The 2m3 threshold for wet wood supply is a significant positive outcome for our lobbying. We argued that a significant group of people purchased wet wood and then seasoned it themselves and that their systems were perfectly well set up to provide well dried wood. This is something we asked for, as we argued that those who normally procured cord wood were likely to be responsible and knowledgeable enough to understand there is no point in burning wet wood. That said, if the problem does not go away, then we could see this threshold being raised, or the sale of wet wood abolished altogether, in 2025, when the regulation is due for review.
We are interested in members views. Have we got this right? What should we be focusing on between now and 2021 when the new regulations are implemented.