ADD2204 “Ready to Burn” and “Ecodesign Ready” schemes

Type of decision: 
Assistant Director's decision
Date signed: 
21 February 2018
Decision by: 
Patrick Feehily, Assistant Director, Environment

Executive summary

Wood burning in London is a significant contributor to air pollution, particularly ultra-fine particulate matter, which has a significant impact on health. In winter up to 10 per cent of PM2.5 emissions come from wood-burning in London. It was estimated that around 50 per cent of the ‘very high’ pollution episode experienced in January 2017 was caused by wood-burning.

“Ready to Burn” and “Ecodesign ready” are Defra backed schemes which seek to promote the use of the less polluting fuels and appliances which are designed to reduce emissions. The purpose of the grant funding is to enable a London focussed campaign to educate members of the public and promote the benefits of more responsible wood burning.

The campaign will primarily be delivered by HETAS and the Stove Industry Alliance, who developed the schemes.


That the Assistant Director - Environment approves expenditure of up to £20,000 in the form of grant funding as a contribution to the costs of promotion of the Ready to Burn and eco-design ready schemes to reduce the impact of solid fuel burning in London.


Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice

Introduction and background

Improving air quality is a public health priority. Air pollution is contributing to thousands of premature deaths caused by long-term exposure. There is also strong scientific evidence of the acute health
effects of short-term exposure to very high levels of pollution, like those experienced during an air
pollution episode. It is essential that coordinated action is taken to reduce exposure, especially
amongst the most vulnerable such as school children and the elderly.

The seasonal nature of domestic wood burning means that the impact at certain times can be very high: a study by Kings College in 2014 found the emissions from wood burning accounted for around 10% of Particulate emissions in London in the winter.

In January 2017 London experienced the highest levels of particulate pollution since April 2011, during this episode particulates emitted from wood burning were measured as contributing around 50 per cent of the total concentration at some monitoring sites.

Impacts of wood and solid fuel burning are also felt acutely within the home; World Health Organisation studies estimate that 4.3 million people die annually from exposure to household air pollutants. In poorly ventilated dwellings, emissions of PM2.5, and other pollutants can be 100 times higher than WHO - recommended levels. These pollutants inflame the airways and lungs, impairing immune response and reducing the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood. 

In his draft London Environment Strategy, the Mayor has said that he will work with partners to seek to reduce emissions from wood burning, and that he will raise awareness about indoor air quality. This campaign is intended as a first step towards delivering those aims. 

While wood burning is an aesthetic choice for some, for others it is a response to fuel poverty or poorly insulated dwellings. It is important to ensure that people who have to burn wood are doing so in a responsible manner, which produces the minimum pollution and reduces the impacts on health.

Defra has been working with industry to develop two schemes that are designed to reduce the impact of wood burning on pollution:

Ready to Burn wood is a fuel standard. Consistent evidence shows that the moisture content of wood has a significant impact on the particulate emissions: wood with around 20 per cent moisture can emit around 50 per cent less particulate than damper logs. 

The ready to burn mark is only awarded where the provider can demonstrate that the wood has been dried or seasoned to the correct level, and is stored and sold in plastic bags, to prevent it getting wet prior to sale. 
Ready to burn is run by Woodsure, a subsidiary of HETAS, a not-for-profit organisation that approves biomass and solid fuel heating appliances, fuels and services.
Ecodesign ready is a standard for stoves and appliances. The European Union will be introducing mandatory ecodesign criteria for solid fuel appliances in the mid-2020s, these standards represent around an 80% reduction in emissions over existing appliances.

The ecodesign ready label indicates a stove on the market now that is already meeting these standards, in advance of their formal introduction. Ecodesign ready is run by the Stove Industry Alliance, which is a not for profit association of stove manufacturers and distributors, wood fuel suppliers, flue and glass manufacturers and industry supporters. 

Both Ready to Burn and Ecodesign ready have technical and political backing from Defra and previously been mentioned in Mayoral press releases. There has been no previous GLA spending associated with these schemes.

Objectives and expected outcomes

The main objectives are:

a.    to raise awareness among the public about the impact the wood burning can have on the environment and their own health.

b.    to inform the public about measures that they can take to reduce their impact on the environment.

c.    to inform the public about sources of information about how to reduce their pollution, including new information to be published on the GLA website regarding wood burning.

The expected outcome is an increase in the use of these lower pollution products, and a consequent reduction in emissions from this pollution source in London.

Equality comments

This work won’t have any detrimental impact on those with protected characteristics. Ensuring that this work is done will in fact help tackle inequality caused by air pollution: the impacts of London’s poor air quality currently fall disproportionately on disadvantaged groups.

In particular those in fuel poverty, who may be most in need of information on how to protect their own health from solid fuel burning, are most likely to benefit from information provided at point of sale of logs and in free newspapers such as the Evening Standard, both of which will be supported by this grant.

Other considerations

Proposal 4.3.3c of the draft London Environment Strategy commits the Mayor to working with various stakeholders to reduce emissions from solid fuel burning in London. Supporting campaigns to raise public awareness of schemes such as Ready to Burn and Ecodesign ready is an important step in delivering this policy

The policy to tighten controls on woodburning and stoves in London was very popular with technical respondents to the LES consultation overwhelmingly (10 to 1) supporting the action to secure environmental benefits in this sector. 

Financial comments

Assistant Director’s approval is sought for expenditure up to £20,000 in the form of grant funding to fund the costs of promotion of the Ready to Burn and eco-design ready schemes to reduce the impact of solid fuel burning in London. This will be funded from the Environment 2017-18 Air Quality budget.


Planned delivery approach and next steps




Procurement of contract [for externally delivered projects]

Week commencing 19th February 2018

Announcement [if applicable]


Delivery Start Date [for project proposals]

Week commencing 26th February 2018

Main milestones

28th February – press release and media coverage

Main milestones


Final evaluation start and finish (self/external) [delete as applicable]:

Week commencing 5th March 2018

Delivery End Date [for project proposals]


Project Closure: [for project proposals]



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