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Domestic Burning

Changes to the Sale of Manufactured Solid Fuels and Wood

From 1st May 2021, the regulations surrounding domestic solid fuels are changing.

Retail businesses in England including convenience stores, supermarkets and forecourts must not sell traditional house coal (bituminous coal). 

Retail businesses in England including convenience stores, supermarkets and forecourts can only sell manufactured solid fuels that have the approved Ready to Burn logo, manufacturer details, and unique certification number.

Retail businesses in England including convenience stores, supermarkets and forecourts selling wood in volumes under 2 cubic metres must ensure the wood has been certified as ‘Ready to Burn’ and must display the approved logo  with the supplier details and unique certification number. 

For manufactured solid fuels and wood in volumes under 2 cubic metres, the ‘Ready to Burn’ logo should ideally form part of the fuel packaging.  However where suppliers have not had the opportunity to have bags printed this information must be displayed with the relevant fuel at the point of sale.

The information below details the changes to the sale of each type of domestic solid fuel, how retailers must comply with new regulations as well as how they will be enforced.

Traditional house coal (bituminous coal)

Retail businesses in England including convenience stores, supermarkets and forecourts must not sell traditional house coal from 1 May 2021. All traditional house coal must be sold before 1 May 2021. You must be registered as a member of the Approved Coal Merchants Scheme  to sell traditional house coal after 1 May 2021.   Approved Coal Merchants can only supply traditional house coal loose or in open bags directly to a consumer.  All sales of traditional house coal will be banned from 1 May 2023.

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

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

Manufactured Solid Fuels

All manufactured solid fuels must be certified for use to be legally sold, with the exception of ‘exempt’ fuels. The certification should be completed by your supplier. You can  check your supplier certification here

To be sold correctly, the approved Ready to Burn logo must be displayed  along with the manufacturer details, and unique certification number.  This should either be attached to the packaging or can be displayed at point of sale

Point of sale is not specifically defined in legislation, however, the information required to be displayed should ideally be located next to the pricing label or on the shelf.

The approved ‘Ready to Burn’ logo confirms that the fuel meets the legislative requirements for smoke emissions and sulphur content.

If you sell online, make sure the logo, certification number and supplier name for each fuel is displayed on the section of the webpage where the fuel is advertised.

These manufactured solid fuels 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.

Wood

The new rules for wood depend on the amount of wood sold.

Wood sold in volumes under 2 cubic meters must be certified as ‘Ready to Burn’.   .To be sold correctly, the approved Ready to Burn logo must be displayed  along with the manufacturer details, and unique certification number.  This should either be attached to the packaging or can be displayed at point of sale

The approved ‘Ready to Burn’ logo confirms that the fuel has a moisture content of 20% or less.

Point of sale is not specifically defined in legislation, however, the information required to be displayed should ideally be located next to the pricing label or on the shelf.

Small-scale wood producers (those who supplied less than 600 m³ between 1 May 2020 and 30 April 2021) have until 1 May 2022 to meet the new requirements.  If you are considering selling wood supplied by a small forester before May 2022, you must satisfy yourself that the small forester meets this definition, eg. through discussions with your supplier. You can check your suppliers’ status here.

If you sell wood in volumes of 2 cubic metres or more in England you must provide customers with this notice here to make sure they dry, store and check the moisture of wood before it is used.

Storage information

Make sure you store the wood to be sold in volumes under 2 cubic metres properly, so that you do not sell it to customers damaged or wet. You can do this by storing the wood indoors, off the ground or undercover.

Rotate stock so that older stock is used up first.

Enforcement

If you sell unauthorised domestic burning fuels to customers, or the fuel is not labelled correctly, you could be fined:

  • a £300 fixed penalty notice (FPN) issued by the local authority
  • a more substantial fine issued by the courts

What an enforcement officer may check

  • Manufactured solid fuels and small bags of wood are sold with the approved Ready to Burn logo, certification number and supplier or manufacturer details attached
  • certification details against the certification list
  • correct information on drying is provided to customers for wood fuel volumes of 2 cubic metres or more
  • sales records (including sales to third-party retailers)
  • how you’re storing wood (so that you aren’t selling it to customers damaged or wet)
  • delivery records to households within smoke control areas

Enforcement action decisions should follow the principles of the Regulators’ Code (more information).