THE most polluting fuels used in log burners and open fires are to be banned in a bid to cut air pollution in Britain.
Environment secretary Michael Gove, due to announce the government’s new clean air strategy today, wants us to keep the home fires burning without particulate matter — considered the most harmful pollutant.
The changes will also mean only the cleanest stoves will be available for sale by 2022 and councils will have more power to take action in areas of high pollution.
Stoves and open fires are now the single biggest source of particulate matter emissions, according to the Department for the Environment, which intends to restrict sales of wet wood for domestic burning and apply sulphur and smoke emission limits to all solid fuels. Sales of bituminous or traditional house coal may also be phased out.
Ministers predict the strategy — which also includes plans to reduce ammonia emissions from farming — will cut the cost of air pollution to society by £1.7billion every year by 2020, rising to £5.3billion every year by 2030 through savings from public health benefits.
The UK is the first major economy to adopt goals based on World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations, and the UN agency praised the strategy as ‘an example for the rest of the world to follow’.
Mr Gove will say: ‘Air pollution continues to shorten lives, harm our children and reduce quality of life.’ He added that while it may conjure ‘images of traffic jams and exhaust fumes, transport is only one part of the story’.
Health secretary Matt Hancock added that ‘environmental factors determine around 30 per cent of a person’s healthy life expectancy’. He warned air pollution poses the ‘single greatest environmental threat to human health’.