By Christabel - posted on November 6, 2020

Wood burning engagement launch

Southampton City Council, Eastleigh Borough Council, New Forest District Council and Winchester City Council are working in partnership to help residents improve air quality for their health, their community and the environment. This partnership will be working with local environmental charity the Environment Centre (tEC) to deliver an engagement programme around promoting cleaner burning in open fires, stoves and bonfires. The programme aims to reduce emissions of harmful pollutants in the home and neighbourhoods and by doing that avoid the associated health impacts. The Environment Centre (tEC) will be providing information and advice in different formats throughout the region and directly engaging with community and stakeholders in key areas. 

Whereas road transport is the main source of nitrogen dioxide pollution and energy generation and industry is the biggest source of sulphur dioxide; household burning is the biggest contributor to particulate matter pollution in the UK (references here and here). Breathing in particulate matter pollution negatively affects your health, including your lungs and heart, and according to DEFRA and WHO there is no safe level. Respiratory health is particularly important at the moment due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and with many of us spending more time at home indoor air quality is even more of a consideration. 

We’re asking households if they can burn less, burn cleaner, burn better and burn different? We’re conscious that there are many households in Hampshire that burn wood to keep warm, and it’s also important for your health and wellbeing to stay warm and well. So, we have different advice for households depending on whether solid fuel burning is their primary or secondary heating option. 

  • Burn less: Reduce burning where possible, keep stoves and fires for particularly cold weather unless they are your only heating source.
  • Burn cleaner: Burn cleaner fuels such as smokeless, authorised fuels or dry, well-seasoned wood with low moisture content. 
  • Burn better: Use efficient appliances, don’t shut off air or allow the temperature to drop, and service and clean them regularly. 
  • Burn different: If possible, switch heating source to no or low emission fuels, such as renewable, electric or gas alternatives. 

Adam Goulden, Chief Executive, the Environment Centre (tEC): “At the Environment Centre our aim is for noone to be exposed to harmful air pollution and for everyone to be able to adequately heat their home in the most affordable and sustainable way they can. Through this programme we hope to continue our work engaging local communities in air quality, energy efficiency and sustainability, with free, impartial and easy-to-understand advice on wood burning, health impacts of air pollution and affordable warmth.” 

Councillor Steve Leggett, Cabinet Member for Transport and Place, Southampton: “Our Green City Plan highlights the commitment of Delivering Clean Air, that’s why, here at Southampton City Council we are really proud to be working in partnership with our neighbouring local authorities on this project; New Forest District Council, Winchester City Council and of course Eastleigh Borough Council. This partnership between Councils will run throughout the coming years, with the initial focus being on wood burning stoves, open fires and bonfires as we step into cooler months. The aim of the campaign is to reduce pollution and to educate our residents of the public health impact of these pollutants” 

Isabel Hessey, Eastleigh Borough Council’s Pollution Control Officer: “Many people will be unaware of just how much burning wood pollutes the air around them and the damage that does to our heart and lungs. Now more than ever we need to take care of our health, and the health of our families and neighbours. We’re very happy to be working together with other local councils to advise residents on what they can do help reduce air pollution.” 

Rachel Higgins, Environmental Protection Team Manager at New Forest District Council: “New Forest District Council is pleased to be working in partnership with some of our neighbouring authorities.  This educational campaign is important to us and will be delivered throughout our rural and urban areas”.  

Councillor Lynda Murphy, Cabinet Member for the Climate Emergency, Winchester City Council: “With COVID-19 at the forefront of everyone’s minds, keeping residents’ lungs as healthy as possible is now more important than ever. Winchester City Council remains committed to improving air quality for everyone in our district and that’s why we’re delighted to join our neighbours on this project. Particulates from the burning of wood and green waste are major contributors to air pollution. Please think, before you light a bonfire or wood-burning stove, about whether there is a better alternative.” 

For more information and advice on wood burning, see our website or contact cleanair@environmentcentre.com.  

With the weather becoming colder, it is important to keep you and your family warm and well. If you are struggling to stay warm or pay your energy bills you can phone our Southampton and Hampshire adviceline on 0800 804 8601.