Mayor of London acknowledges that not all wood burning is the same

Apr 4, 2018

After being widely misquoted as calling for a ban on wood burning stoves, the Mayor of London is urging Londoners who burn wood in their homes to use the right kind of equipment and fuels to help reduce emissions.

Click here for PDF version of this press release

Recognising that the burning of wood on open fires is a major source of PM emissions in London, Sadiq Khan is advocating the replacement of open fires with Ecodesign Ready stoves.

A SIA Ecodesign Ready stove can reduce emissions by 90% compared to an open fire and 80% compared to many older, very basic stoves.

The Ecodesign regulations, which have PM emission limits that are 55% lower than the current Clean Air Act limits are due to come into force in 2022 but the SIA has introduced the stoves now under the Ecodesign Ready label.

The SIA Ecodesign Ready label will help the consumer more easily choose those stoves that meet the lower emission levels.

Burning suitably dry wood also lowers the emissions produced.  Ready to Burn fuel is guaranteed to have a moisture below 20%.

The press release below was issued by Sadiq Khan on 28th February.

Mayor backs drive to tackle emissions from most polluting wood burners

28 February 2018

Campaign to help consumers make the right choice

In a week which has seen temperatures plummet across the capital, Sadiq Khan is urging Londoners who burn wood in their homes to use the right kind of equipment and fuels to help reduce the harmful emissions contributing to air pollution.

Burning wood or other solid fuels like coal releases PM2.5, widely acknowledged as the air pollutant which has the greatest health impacts, increasing risk of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. In January 2017, pollution from wood burning was a major contributor to  the highest levels of pollution recorded in London since 2011, resulting in a winter smog lasting for nine days. 

The Mayor believes that, as we work to tackle the capital’s filthy air, emissions from wood burning should be reduced as much as possible. He wants to ensure Londoners have the right information to make the correct choices if they already have a wood-burner, or are considering purchasing one in an upgrade from an older, more polluting appliance or switching from an open fire.

In a bid to raise awareness amongst Londoners, Sadiq has invested £20,000 in an industry information campaign, including newspaper advertisements today, encouraging people who currently use an open fire to switch to a cleaner, ecodesign-ready wood-burning stove, and use the best wood possible.

Even stoves or fuels that meet legal requirements can emit toxic pollution. The Stove Industry Alliance (SIA) and Woodsure, the UK’s woodfuel accreditation scheme, launched their voluntary “ecodesign-ready” and “Ready to Burn” labels for stoves and fuels last year, to help consumers make the right choice in London and other smoke control areas.

The campaign, run by the Stove Industry Alliance and Heating Equipment Testing and Approval Scheme (HETAS), highlights how ecodesign-ready stoves, approved by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), can emit up to 80 per cent less pollution than a normal Defra-approved appliance, and ‘ready to burn’ dry wood emits around 50 per cent less pollution than wet wood. 

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “During this cold weather, we want to ensure that air pollution caused by wood burning across the capital is kept to a minimum. The industry is already doing great work in developing less polluting ‘ready to burn’ wood and low-emission stoves, but increased effort needs to be made in raising awareness of these new designs, so Londoners have the information they need to make the right choice. That’s why I’m supporting this campaign, and the industry’s efforts, to clean up our filthy air. If you have to burn wood this winter, make sure you use the right fuel and the right kit– you can make a huge difference.”

The ‘ready to burn’ wood has a low moisture content, and the lowest level of pollution emissions, compared to other types of wood including: 

  • Defra-approved ‘smokeless fuels’ – emits ‘medium’ levels of pollution emissions
  • ‘Wet’ wood that has not been kiln dried or seasoned – emits ‘high’ levels of pollution emissions
  • Found, or unpurchased wood, for example from gardens – emits ‘high’ levels of pollution emissions
  • Waste wood – emits ‘very high’ levels of pollution emissions and should not be used at all, as it can contain other dangerous elements.

The campaign will also see leaflets and signage provided at HETAS-approved suppliers of wood-burning stoves.

Bruce Allen, Chair of Woodsure said: “Woodsure is pleased to be working with the Mayor of London. The Woodsure Ready to Burn scheme provides a recognisable logo to help customers to recognise the right fuel to buy and use, at the same time as reducing environmental impact. This, along with the right appliance choices, like eco-design ready wood burning stoves, will make a real difference. It’s great to see the Mayor leading in key areas of environmental importance like this.”  

The Mayor is using all his powers and investing record amounts to improve the capital’s air, including reducing the number of older dirty vehicles in central London, cleaning up the bus fleet and implementing a new programme of air quality advice and alerts for the public. Sadiq now wants the Government to match his ambition and deliver a much-needed national diesel scrappage scheme, as well as allowing Londoners to access the national Clean Air Fund which they contribute to, to help them switch to cleaner vehicles. 

Notes to editors

  1. For more information visit
  2. Many parts of the UK are smoke control areas where you can’t emit smoke from a chimney unless you’re burning an authorised fuel or using ‘exempt appliances’, for example burners or stoves. For more information visit
  3. Advice on how to burn solid fuels to heat your home:
    • As a minimum you should ensure your stove meets the legal requirements, but even Defra-approved stoves can emit high levels of pollution. The Stove Industry Alliance has recently introduced the ‘Ecodesign Ready’ label. A full list of these stoves can be found here: 
    • Any stove or fireplace should be properly maintained, and your chimney should be swept regularly.
    • If you are using an open fireplace you should only burn smokeless fuels; if in doubt ask your supplier.
    • Wood that has the Woodsure Ready to Burn label is certified to have a low moisture content. For a full list of suppliers visit:

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