By Christabel - posted on April 22, 2021

Ready to Burn

Since 1st May 2021 new laws apply to the sale of coal, wood and manufactured solid fuels.

The government are phasing out two of the most polluting fuels, traditional house coal and wet wood, to help improve air quality.  The ‘Ready to Burn’ logo has been introduced to help customers choose less polluting alternatives, dry wood and manufactured solid fuels. 

Use ‘Ready to Burn’ labelled wood and solid fuels to help meet the new rules.

Wood and manufactured solid fuels  

Manufactured solid fuels and wood sold for domestic use, including in smoke control areas, must meet the new requirements from 1st May 2021. The rules for wood are dependent on the amount sold, and all manufactured solid fuels must be certified for use to be legally sold. 

Compliance checks for wood and manufactured solid fuels include: 

  • certification details against the certification list 
  • wood and manufactured solid fuel sold have the Ready to Burn logo, certification number and supplier or manufacturer details attached 
  • sales records (including sales to third-party retailers) 
  • delivery records to households within smoke control areas 
  • correct information on drying is provided to customers for wood fuel volumes of 2 cubic metres or more 
  • wood is stored correctly so that it is not sold to customers damaged or wet 

Manufactured solid fuels that are exempt from the certification requirements: 

  • coffee logs 
  • olive logs 
  • wine logs 
  • fuels where it’s mostly made of wheat husks, straw, miscanthus, bamboo or compressed food waste. 

Woodsure runs the ‘Ready to Burn’ scheme for firewood and HETAS runs the scheme for manufactured solid fuels. 

Traditional house coal 

Only approved coal merchants can legally sell traditional house coal between 1st May 2021 and 30th April 2023. Traditional house coal must be sold in loose or in unsealed bags. It will be illegal to see traditional house coal for use in homes in England from 1st May 2023. Coal merchants should be supporting and advising customers on how to switch to alternative fuels before then. 

Traditional house coal compliance checks include: 

  • retail outlets are not selling traditional house coal 
  • records at registered coal merchants to confirm that sales of coal in England are reducing between 1st May 2021 and 1st May 2023 
  • records of the types of coal sold at the point of sale 
  • delivery records to determine delivery locations (such as households, pubs, restaurants) 
  • records for households deliveries in England that are within smoke control areas 

All suppliers, distributors and retailers can continue to sell these ‘smokeless’ fuels: 

  • anthracite coal 
  • semi-anthracite coal 
  • low volatile steam coal 

Smoke control area rules still apply in the UK. Traditional house coal is not approved for use in smoke control areas in England unless it is used in an appropriate exempt applianceGovernment guidance on selling fuel in smoke control areas.

Enforcement and fines   

These regulations are to be enforced by the local authority if a fuel manufacturer, supplier, distributor or retailer appears to have broken the rules. Depending on the severity of the offence, a £300 fixed penalty notice can be issued by the local authority or a more substantial fine issued by the courts. 

More information