Chimney sweep says new legislation is endangering his livelihood

Mark WatsonMark Watson
Mark Watson
Campaign launched to reverse legislation v.1

A Borders chimney sweep claims new legislation is endangering his livelihood and brushing aside the rights of the public to free heating.

Mark Watson is a trained chimney sweep who has worked across the region for the last ten years.

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He is backing a campaign against new regulations banning solid fuel systems, such as wood-burning stoves, in new build homes and possible further restrictions set to be introduced before 2045.

Aside from the impact on his workload, Mark believes the legislation “takes away people’s right to free heating”.

Mark, part of whose work is safety checking stoves, said: “If they’re not fitting wood-burning stoves into new build properties that is going to decrease my workload but the main thing is it’s taking away people’s right to free heating, basically.

“If you have a log-burning stove and you have wood that you collect yourself, or you may have branches on your property that you cut yourself, you can dry it properly and it’s free fuel.

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“The cost of living crisis is going on so if they are taking this part away from everyday living then we are kind of stuck with electricity. Sometimes in rural communities in particular these stoves are the main source of heat.”

The New Build Heat Standard or Heat in Buildings Bill is now the law in Scotland.

From April 1 this year it is required that all new homes and buildings ditch fossil fuel heating systems in favour of climate-friendly alternatives.

The Guild of Chimney Sweeps and the Stove Industry Association are among those pushing for the new regulations to be reversed.

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The Scottish stove industry is worth approximately £60m annually and supports around 2,000 jobs.

Campaigners say the UK stove industry has been ahead of the curve in addressing emissions.

The industry has been supportive of Smoke Control Area legislation and welcomed the introduction of the Domestic Solid Fuels Standards in England which banned the sale of house coal and wet wood.

Modern stoves (defined as eco-design compliant) produce up to 90 per cent less particulate emissions than an open fire, which is up to 80 per cent less than many older stove models. It is also estimated that 170,000 properties (seven per cent of total dwellings) in Scotland are off-gas.

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And campaigners say having a modern stove as a local space heating appliance ensures heat is always available in the event of a power cut and offers a cushion against fluctuating gas and electricity prices.

There is unhappiness too that industry bodies were not directly consulted on the New Build Heat Standard or Heat in Buildings Bill.

Mark, from Hawick, said the regulations changes have particular implications in rural locations.

He explained: “Let’s say in the countryside there is a power cut and the electricity is not there at least they can put their stove on and have a bit of heating.”

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Mark is soon to distribute cards promoting the campaign to the three main stove shops in the Borders – in Jedburgh, Berwick and Kelso.

Members of the public with concerns can fill out their name and address on the cards and send them to their local MSP.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The changes mean that new homes and buildings do not contribute to climate emissions, by banning the use of polluting heating systems such as oil and gas boilers, and bioenergy – including wood-burning stoves.”

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