During the grim winter months, returning home to a log burner or open fire provides warmth and comfort to countless households.
But it can also come at a considerable cost to the environment through increased air pollution, which is at illegal levels in numerous places throughout Yorkshire, including in York, Leeds and Sheffield to name but three.
Stoves and open fires are now the single biggest source of particulate matter emissions - considered the most damaging pollutant.
As part of the Government’s Clean Air Strategy, it has now been revealed the most polluting log burner and open fire fuels will be banned, with plans to restrict sales of wet wood for domestic burning and apply sulphur and smoke emission limits to all solid fuels. Some coal sales may also be phased out.
The move – combined with proposals to make farmers cut ammonia emissions and fertiliser use – may be seen by some as an attack on rural and Middle England, but improving air quality specifically and the environment more generally requires lifestyle changes from all of us and, as the once-controversial plastic bag tax has showed, when done properly Government intervention can be effective whilst having minimal impact on people’s day-to-day lives.
Rightly, manufacturers will also have a responsibility to ensure only the cleanest stoves are available for sale.
Air pollution is associated with health problems, from asthma to cardiovascular disease and lung cancer, and it is often children and the elderly who are the most at risk. This is a burning issue that, in a modern society, must be tackled.