Wigan chimney sweep’s fury at wet wood ban
David Sudworth, of Mr Soot Chimney Sweep, has been a prominent campaigner against DEFRA’s plans to phase out the sale of housecoal and smaller quantities of unseasoned wood logs to reduce pollution as they give off more fumes than most household fuels.
Mr Sudworth, a trained member of the Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps,said: “The most important thing to know is that announcement will not affect your ability to use your stove or open fire - you can continue to enjoy them, as you have always done.
“Housecoal use is gradually reducing and very few of my customers still use it. Most use smokeless coal. Many do however buy unseasoned logs, store them for 18 months-plus and then use them. This is both financially and environmentally sensible. However from 2022, all wood sold under two cubic metres in volume will have to be ‘dry’. In theory it sounds a good idea. However, anyone who tries to burn wet wood knows it is pointless. It gives off no heat or flames at all. It’s a wholly underwhelming experience.
“Also, wood is a naturally occurring product. In some areas, it is available everywhere - private properties, farm gates, farm shops and so on. I even have customers who are members of local golf clubs and heritage sites who fell wood and sell it locally at a small profit to raise funds. Does the government seriously think all these will sign up to a certification scheme?
“More likely, these places will stop selling wood (even if it is seasoned) or simply it will go ‘underground’. If it’s the former, will people pay more or will they just turn to local Facebook and eBay for old bits of timber, MDF and so on
“I know that most issues concerning pollution from domestic burning comes from operator error of the actual stove - I.e not using the air controls properly. Because even dry wood can be massively polluting if it is not burnt in the correct manner. That’s why I’m a co-founder of Burnright, the national campaign which helps people understand how to use their appliances properly and how to season wood.
“The ‘wet wood’ argument has always been a red herring and I’m afraid the government has fallen into the trap of listening to the major fuel distributors who want an even greater market share, rather than understanding how it actually works on the ground.
“It also treats people like children whereas more education would help. Sweden, where I have just returned from, is just one country which burns much more wood than us yet they don’t see the need to bring in pointless measures like this. It’s the nanny state gone into overdrive.”