Government’s role in promoting wood burning stove emissions unveiled in new study

Wednesday, 15 February 2023

The number of stove models officially exempt from UK smoke control regulations has increased ten-fold since 2010, a new study has revealed.

The results were published by Dr James Heydon, an expert in environmental regulation in the School of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Nottingham.

Based on an analysis of over 18,000 government records of heating and cooking appliances exempt from smoke control rules, and interviews with air pollution officers from local councils across the UK, the research shows how the Deregulation Act 2015 opened the door to a market of stoves exempt from urban air pollution controls (see graph).

Stoves and Non-stoves Exempt Under the Clean Air Act 1993, 2005-2021

Dr Heydon said: “The UK government’s own data shows that solid fuel burning in homes is the single biggest source of particulate matter (PM2.5) pollution in the country. This research shows how the government has helped to create this situation by encouraging a whole market of stoves exempt from regulatory control.”

The study finds that the Deregulation Act 2015 removed obstacles to stove manufacturers certifying their appliances as ‘exempt’ from smoke control area rules. This change was justified on the basis of removing delays to business and improving consumer choice. No consideration was given to the environmental public health consequences arising from encouraging expansion of this market.

The UK Government must reconsider its open-door approach to excluding stoves from smoke control rules. This policy has encouraged market expansion for almost a decade, contributing to the nationwide air pollution problems we’re now seeing. Given the number of stoves it has already exempt from smoke controls, the government must now give serious consideration to also regulating their sale, installation and use across urban areas.
Dr James Heydon, School of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Nottingham

To find out more about this study, visit:

Story credits

More information is available from Dr James Heydon in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Nottingham at

Katie Andrews - Media Relations Manager for the Faculty of Social Sciences
Phone: 0115 951 5751

Notes to editors:

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