bio-bean response to Environmental Improvement Plan 2023


3rd February 2023

bio-bean response to Environmental Improvement Plan 2023

There has been a lot of discussion in the news this week about the UK government’s new Environmental Improvement Plan. Particularly noisy is the fiery debate the plan has stoked regarding fines for domestic fires.

That fiery debate is spreading a lot of misinformation, and given we manufacture and sell Coffee Logs, we’d like to shed light on some of the facts…

The UK government is aiming to reduce air pollution from fine particulate matter

Air quality in the UK has improved significantly over the last few decades, but it still presents the greatest environmental risk to human health, particularly for those already vulnerable.

According to the Environmental Improvement Plan, data from 2020 indicates that, in the UK, emissions from the home, agriculture, industry and transport combined contributed 85% of PM2.5 (fine particulate matter) emissions into the air. And fine particulate matter is one of the five biggest sources of air pollution in the UK.

So the plan sets out specific targets to help reduce fine particulate emissions from these sources.

Decreasing particulate emissions from domestic burning

To tackle emissions from the home, the government is aiming to better manage domestic burning, which it says is the biggest source of emissions of fine particulate matter, and more so in urban areas where housing is denser.

The government already banned the burning of wet wood and coal back in May 2021, and rightly so, for these are materials that emit high concentrations of fine particulates. In fact, burning a dry wood log can reduce emissions by 50% compared to a log which has not been dried.

Along with that ban, they also put limits on sulphur content and smoke emissions from ‘manufactured solid fuels’, or MSFs. These are primarily fuels that are deemed ‘smokeless’. Yet unfortunately, these types of fuels are most often made from anthracite (coal) or paraffin wax – both of which are hugely destructive to the environment.

Is the government banning domestic fires in England?

To be clear, the government is not banning domestic fires in England. Nor are they considering it. They are also not considering a ban on outdoor burning (bonfires, barbecues, firepits, etc).

However, the Environmental Improvement Plan does lay out some further steps the government plans to take to continue reducing particulate emissions from domestic burning. These steps include:

  • Reducing the limit from 5g of smoke per hour to 3g of smoke per hour in new stoves within Smoke Control Areas. Many appliances in production already meet this new target.
  • Extending the solid fuels legislation to fuels burned outside. Note this will not affect traditional fuels used for barbecues, such as charcoal.
  • Driving – through public education campaigns – a shift away from more polluting appliances like old stoves and open fires, to newer, more efficient appliances which meet the new emission standards, like clearSkies certified stoves.

Will my local council fine me for burning a fire in my home?

There are a lot of rumours flying around about the £300 fine local councils could give to residents deemed to be emitting too much smoke from their chimney.

The government is trying to encourage people toward installing more efficient appliances and adopting better burn practices with less polluting fuels. And this is a good step forward to improving our overall impact on the environment.

So, if you live in a Smoke Control Area and are burning anything other than smokeless fuels on an open fire, you will likely be producing too much smoke for that area, and your neighbours and local council may have something to say about it.

However, if you live outside a Smoke Control Area and you burn low-moisture fuels, like Coffee Logs or well-seasoned wood logs within a modern, EcoDesign wood-burning or multi-fuel stove, you will find it difficult to emit a disproportionate amount of smoke.

That said, there are still some best burn practices to maintain to reduce any smoke coming from your fire.

What are some best burning practices to limit my chimney smoke?

First, keep both your appliance and your chimney clean, well-maintained, and regularly inspected by a certified professional. The Stove Industry Alliance and HETAS are good sources for finding someone appropriate.

Second, make sure you’re using the right fuel for your appliance. And check with your local council if you’re in a Smoke Control Area, as this will also determine which types of fuel you’re permitted to burn.

When it comes to building your fire, light plenty of kindling and natural firelighters first to establish a hot flame. Only once your appliance and flue are warmed up should you add your solid fuel, such as Coffee Logs, to the fire.

Finally, use your vents! If you’re at a loss as to which vent is which, and when to open them or not, Greg Penn (aka Man With a Hammer) gives a great tutorial.


We welcome the government’s moves to curb air pollution. Modern appliances and cleaner burning fuels are important factors in the broader efforts to decarbonise, modernise and increase efficiencies toward a more sustainable future.