The government intends to ban the sale of the most-polluting fuels to tackle worsening air quality caused by the increased popularity of wood-burning stoves.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs unveiled a two-month consultation on Friday on how to introduce tighter restrictions on burning for heating in homes.
It includes proposals to phase out the sale of traditional house coal and applying sulphur standards, as well as smoke emission limits, to the sale of all solid fuels.
Ministers are also considering tougher regulations to deter the burning of wet wood in private homes, which is less energy efficient than dry wood and produces more smoke.
Almost 40 per cent of harmful “particulate matter” emitted in the UK comes from the burning of wood and coal in homes, according to the government — more than double the amount from diesel cars.
About 2.5m homes are estimated to use a solid-fuel fire or stove.
According to government data, 18 per cent of wood currently burnt in domestic wood burners will be banned under the new rules.
The government said that proposals set out in the consultation would prevent 8,000 tonnes of these microscopic pollutants, known as PM2.5, from entering the atmosphere every year.
The pollutants have been linked to conditions including asthma, heart disease and cancer because the particles pass into the lungs and bloodstream.
In May, ministers released a full consultation of its Clean Air Strategy which sets out plans to tackle pollution and emissions. Implementation of the standards will be determined based on results of the consultation, officials said.
It is expected that the requirements will be introduced through an industry-led certification scheme and enforced “in partnership with Trading Standards officers”, who will regulate “at point of sale”.
Thérèse Coffey, environment minister, said: “Everyone has a role to play in improving the air we breathe, and reducing pollution from burning at home is a key area where we can all take action.
“While we will never be able to eliminate all particulate matter, by switching to cleaner fuels, householders can reduce the amount of harmful pollution to which they unwittingly expose themselves, their families and the environment, while still enjoying the warmth and pleasure of a fire.”
Michael Gove, environment secretary, had previously promised that the UK would set a “gold standard” in air quality after Brexit.
Sadiq Khan, mayor of London, wrote to Mr Gove last year seeking powers to ban wood-burning stoves in certain parts of the capital.
Liz Truss, chief secretary to the Treasury, recently jested about the new regulations on “wood-burning Goves”.
Speaking in June, she joked: “Government’s role should not be to tell us what our tastes should be. Too often we’re hearing about not drinking too much, eating too many doughnuts, drinking from disposable cups through plastic straws or enjoying the warm glow of our wood-burning Goves — I mean stoves.
“I can see their point: there’s enough hot air and smoke at the environment department already.”
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