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Following a ban on bagged house-coal sales in England, the sale of loose house coal is set to become illegal from 1 May 2023, homeowners who favour coal for domestic burning will very soon need to find a suitable approved alternative. In light of this, HETAS and Woodsure, two of the UK’s leading fuel heating organisations, are advising consumers still using house coal that it is time to prepare and switch to a different fuel for their domestic burning needs.

Outlawing the sale of wetter wood and house coal (also known as bituminous coal), the Air Quality (Domestic Solid Fuels Standards) (England) Regulations 2020 acknowledged house-coal as the most polluting fuels used in Britain’s homes. The only exemption from the new legislation is traditional house coal extracted and sold from the Forest of Dean, which will continue to be sold locally due to the history of mining within the area. Here, a total of six mines will remain and an agreement between Defra (the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) and The Royal Forest of Dean Freeminers’ Association means the sale of the coal will help to keep the only working coalfield in the UK open.

Having had two years to prepare for the ban, approved coal merchants will be able to advise consumers on the most suitable alternative solid fuels to switch to, ensuring they are ready for when the enforcement comes into place. Alternatives include those manufactured solid fuels (MSFs) which have been verified as being “smokeless” and all of which meet relevant standards for sulphur content and smoke emissions under the Ready to Burn scheme. These can be a good alternative to house coal as they can be utilised on existing appliances designed to burn mineral fuels, whilst also burning more efficiently, rendering them less polluting and more cost-effective than traditional coal.

Regardless of what type of fuel consumers opt for as an alternative, they should look out for the Ready to Burn certification mark. Appointed by Defra, HETAS and Woodsure administer the Ready to Burn schemes for MSFs and wood fuel respectively. This is a trusted mark which makes it easy for consumers to not only identify fuels that are suitable for immediate use, but also to reduce their impact on air quality and the level of fine particulates emitted from their home.

Bruce Allen, chief executive officer for HETAS and Woodsure, comments: “With the extended legislation coming into play from 1May 2023, we want homeowners to be clear on the right fuels to burn. By looking out for Ready to Burn fuel, we are confident that those who have traditionally preferred house coal will easily be able to choose an alternative fuel which will lessen the impact their domestic burning has on the environment.

Homeowners should note that the 1 May ban relates to the sale of coal only. Those who have pre-purchased coal and have stockpiles can use them up. However, our advice remains to seek out an alternative solution that’s not only better for the environment but for the appliances as well.

For more information, don’t hesitate to speak to your registered installer or approved chimney sweep who will be able to offer advice on a suitable fuel for your appliance. For further advice, visit the HETAS Advice Hub. For more information about cleaner, safer choices for solid fuel use within the home, visit or


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