HETAS Newsletter November 2023


It has been two years since we saw the introduction of the Environment Act 2021 and just under a year since government introduced the Environment Improvement Plan. At the time government said that the Environment Act will clean up the country’s air, restore natural habitats, increase biodiversity, reduce waste and make better use of our resources. This includes the setting of new legally binding long-term targets to improve air quality and reduce fine particulate (PM2.5). Changes to legislation also made it quicker and easier for local authorities to enforce penalties for smoke emissions from homes in a Smoke Control Area (SCA) and removes the limits on fines that can be issued for the sale and delivery of unapproved solid fuels to a building in an SCA. We have seen press coverage relating to potential fines for breaches of legislation and continue to support Local Authorities in their work to push for greater compliance.

 Through the introduction of the Environment Improvement Plan 2023 government identified it is not considering a ban on domestic burning in England and it recognises that some households are reliant on solid fuel burning for heating, hot water and cooking. As domestic burning is not being banned, we must ensure people who use their stoves do so responsibly. We saw a massive increase in demand for stoves over the last twelve months, in part driven by the energy crisis. Millions of Britons face paying higher energy bills from January, with the energy price cap set to increase. Ofgem has confirmed the price cap – which is currently at £1,834 – will be set at £1,928 a year for a typical household that uses gas and electricity. This comes at a time when the weather will be at its coldest and budgets are already stretched. Nonetheless, homeowners must not regard their wood burning or solid fuel stove as a means to burn rubbish or anything that isn’t clean dry fuel. This messaging is even more important given that today (Thursday 30th November) is Fuel Poverty Awareness Day. According to National Energy Action (NEA), it has been two years since the energy crisis first began and from 1 October, 6.3 million UK households are in fuel poverty. You can learn more about the impact of fuel poverty on the NEA’s social media channels. Additionally, research from the HHIC (consumer survey of 2,000 homeowners) suggests nearly nine in 10 respondents were worried about the price of heating over the winter. 

Recently, we shared our support for Defra’s Burn Better, Breathe Better campaign which aims to educate homeowners on how to reduce the negative impact their stove or open fire can have on their health. The campaign focuses on three key actions: Check it. Sweep it. Feed it. This core messaging around responsible burning aligns with our own, and we are pleased to continue our work supporting Defra, not only in raising awareness around good burning habits, but also through our contractual obligations on the clean air contract and Ready to Burn certification for manufactured solid fuels. Regular servicing, sweeping and using the right fuels can help to ensure that appliances are operating at maximum efficiency.  

Alongside this messaging, we must continue to promote the importance of using an appliance in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and ensuring adequate ventilation for the appliance. Earlier in November, HETAS supported World Ventilation Day and through various government plans, the focus on indoor air quality is coming to the forefront. The Decent Homes Standard, which sets minimum standards for the condition of social homes, has been under review for several years, with its review relaunched in the summer of 2023.