Latest regulatory updates
Last updated 29 June 2021
Kurt Janson, Director of the Tourism Alliance, gives a monthly update on the latest regulatory changes affecting the hospitality industry.
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New solid fuel regulations now in force
The Air Quality (Domestic Solid Fuels Standards) (England) Regulations 2020 came into force last month and introduced new restrictions on the sale of coal and firewood, which affects any tourism business that supplies solid fuels to customers.
The new restrictions are:
- Sales of bagged traditional house coal and wet wood in units under 2m3 are now unlawful.
- Wet wood in larger volumes must be sold with advice on how to dry it before burning.
- All manufactured solid fuels must now have a low sulphur content and only emit a small amount of smoke.
To support these restrictions, a new certification scheme has been introduced which will see products certified and labelled by suppliers to ensure that they can be easily identified and retail outlets will only able to sell fuel that is accompanied by the correct label.
The legislation is part of the Government’s Clean Air Strategy, which aims to reduce emissions of very small particulate matter under 2.5 micrometres in size (PM2.5).
The burning of fuels such as wet wood and house coal is known to produce large amounts of PM2.5, which can have many short-term and long-term health impacts. In the short term, these particles can irritate the eyes, nose and throat, and cause coughing, sneezing and shortness of breath. In the longer term, prolonged exposure to these small particles can cause permanent respiratory problems such as asthma, chronic bronchitis and heart disease.
For businesses that buy wood and coal from retail outlets such as hardware depots, compliance with these restrictions is easy, as the onus is on the supplier and the retail outlet to make sure that all fuels they sell are compliant.
However, if you buy wood directly from businesses that fell trees and split logs for firewood, you need to make sure that either the firewood you are receiving is properly dried, or store it until it is dry, before supplying it to customers.
There is a question as to whether supplying wet wood to customers staying in accommodation with a wood burner constitutes a sale (especially if the wood is provided for no additional charge). However, it should be noted that the courts have ruled that businesses that give customers a “free” bottle of wine with their booking are deemed to be selling the wine, because the operator has factored the cost of the wine into their room rate.
In that context, my advice to businesses is that all wood and coal products supplied to guests to use during their stay must comply with these new restrictions.