The government is to phase out the sale of coal and wet wood for domestic burning across England by 2023.
The move aims to encourage the use of cleaner fuels in the home – wood-burning stoves and coal fires are the single largest source of particulate matter pollutants, emitting twice that of industrial combustion and three times that of road transport.
This form of pollution has been identified by the World Health Organisation as the most serious air pollutant for human health, with evidence suggesting it can cause lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, strokes and asthma.
The two fuels will be phased out between 2021 and 2023, giving the public and suppliers time to move to cleaner alternatives such as dry wood and manufactured solid fuels, which produce less smoke and pollution and are also cheaper and more efficient to burn.
Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “Cosy open fires and wood-burning stoves are at the heart of many homes up and down the country but the use of certain fuels means that they are also the biggest source of the most harmful pollutant that is affecting people in the UK.
“By moving towards the use of cleaner fuels such as dry wood we can all play a part in improving the health of millions of people.”
Professor Stephen Holgate, Royal College of Physicians’ Special Adviser on Air Quality said: “We know that air pollution causes significant health issues across the life course.
“It is key that the Government does everything it can to improve the air we all breathe. Today’s announcement on domestic burning is a welcome step forward, and will in time, play a role in reducing the pollution associated with PM2.5.”