In a bid to improve air quality and tackle particle pollutant levels, a phasing out of the sale of house coal and wet wood is to be brought in from 2021 to 2023.
Home fuel burning is three times more polluting than road transport according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
The move away from wet wood and house coal and towards dry wood and certified manufactured solid fuels is intended to reduce air pollution, but there are concerns that some rural households will be hit hard by the changes.
Oliver Rothwell, project manager at Marches Energy Agency (MEA), which assists many households experiencing fuel poverty, said: “We are looking at what exactly constitutes a ban, because although this is a step in the right direction concerning air pollution, we have quite big concerns about those households in Shropshire that use solid fuel for heating and hot water.”
It is these homes that will struggle to adapt their existing heating systems to be compliant and Age UK Shropshire Telford & Wrekin and MEA believe more time and consultation is needed to ensure that people can access alternatives that are affordable.
Heather Osborne, chief executive of Age UK Shropshire Telford & Wrekin, confirmed many of the households at risk are occupied by older people.
She said: “We know already that many homes are off-grid and older householders may be reliant on outdated heating. But upgrading systems can be intrusive and costly, and while we welcome efforts to reduce air pollution, like MEA we would highlight the need for full consultation with households at risk of, or already in, fuel poverty.”
Keep Shropshire Warm offers Shropshire residents free energy advice on bills and suppliers as well as grants towards insulation, boiler replacements and heating upgrades. Marches Energy Agency is working with Shropshire Council and also with Age UK Shropshire Telford & Wrekin to provide free home energy checks for the over 60s.
For more information call Age UK Shropshire Telford & Wrekin on 01743 233123, or Marches Energy Agency’s free advice line on 0800 112 3743.