Wood burning stoves have become a “status symbol” in parts of Leeds despite being environmentally damaging

Wood burning stoves have become a “status symbol” in parts of Leeds, and more needs to be done to discourage their use, a Leeds City Council meeting heard this week.

Friday, 23rd July 2021, 4:45 am

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A wood burning stove.

But opposition councillors at the meeting raised the issue of wood-burning fires, and the damage they cause to the environment.Council officers stated that a communications plan to prevent the use of wood burning fires would be stepped up in the coming months.

According to the government, the burning of solid fuels in the home causes air pollution and “harms the health of millions”.

Conservative councillor Barry Anderson said: “I was aware one of your colleagues bought a wood burning stove, and it questions whether or not it was the right environmental decision they made.

“When do you think we might have more details with residents raising concerns?”

The Leeds Liberal Democrats deputy leader Coun Jonathan Bentley added: “In certain parts of my ward the wood burning stove has always been the go-to status symbol, and always on the basis that it was environmentally friendly.

“It is how we are dealing with the problem. I see wood burning stoves being like diesel cars – everybody flocked to buy diesel cars because they were told they were better for the environment, but then all of a sudden we had all the problems with them.

“We probably can’t do much with people who have already got them, but prevention may be a way on that.”

The council’s portfolio holder for climate Coun Helen Hayden said: “On wood burning stoves, I have to put my hands up, in a previous house I did install a wood burning stove. I am a coal miner’s granddaughter and having an open fire is one of my comforts in life. I don’t have one in my current house.”

A senior council officer then said: “After today we are expecting to have something in the next three to four months coming out, particularly around wood burning stoves.”

As part of the plans, electric bin lorries, a public bike sharing scheme and better ventilated buildings would also be introduced soon.

A statement by Leeds City Council read: “Thanks to a citywide effort to switch to cleaner vehicles, air quality in Leeds has improved significantly in recent years and is now generally cleaner and healthier than many other UK cities.

“However continuing to reduce air pollution levels could save even more lives. While road transport remains the main source of outdoor air pollution in Leeds, it is not the only one.”

The plans include a commitment to cleaner transport emissions, such as electric bin lorries, extending the popular EV Trials scheme and further improvements to public transport links.

It also states that the council should “promote pollution-free and active ways to travel”, and commits to introducing a public bike share scheme, and to improve the city’s cycling infrastructure.

A requirement to reduce emissions from homes is also included in the plans. and raise awareness of indoor air pollution, such as requiring new developments to be greener and better ventilated, installing energy efficiency measures in existing homes and raising awareness of wood burners and other indoor sources of air pollution.

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