Wood Burning in UK = Massive Air Pollution

Regular readers know I’ve been going on about the UK power plant DRAX switching from coal to wood pellets.

And I’ve mentioned the EU directives that encourage wood boilers to be installed in the UK instead of gas.

And I’ve mentioned the trees being felled to burn in Europe.

And the morons at my alma mater SFU.


Guess what … the air is filthy in the UK .


The current weather conditions, coupled with an “unusually high amount of domestic wood burning“, has led to the highest pollution alert being issued.”

Wood is a crappy high CO2 high particulate matter fuel. Combine that with diesel cars (which I’ve also mentioned) and the great killer fogs aren’t far away.




4 thoughts on “Wood Burning in UK = Massive Air Pollution

  1. More alarmist nonsense, basically. I remember the pollution before the Clean Air Acts kicked in when most households burned high bitumen coal and all our industry ran off steam engines driven by hand fired Lancashire boilers, some of the textile mills had dozens of the things. The smoke when they fired up on a Monday morning had to be seen to be believed.

    In the 1950s in Leeds I saw sheets hung on washing lines with holes burned in them by the rain, and in 1960 I saw paint on cars that were parked downwind of a chemical plant damaged’

    I experienced the last great smog in Manchester in 1965-66 winter, the whole city ground to a halt for three days.

    This puts London at No. 32 out of 100 cities in Europe, and compared to Chinese cities we don’t figure at all.


    Ironic incidentally that both wood burning and diesel cars were peddled by the EU as being the ‘Green’ alternative to natural gas and petrol…

    1. I don’t think it alarmist nonsense. I live on a small island off the coast of Vancouver Island. Lots of wood stoves. People burn cord after cord of firewood shipped over or found on the beach because heating your home is not cheap when it got as cold as it did this winter. And our electricity is pretty cheap compared to many places. Hydro.

      “More than a million homes in Britain now have a wood burning stove with 175,000 new ones installed every year.

      Demand for the stoves, which cost between £400 and £7,000, has tripled in the last five years – partly down to the savings they can make to energy bills. ”

      Shale gas will probably save the UK. But if it didn’t, your air will have been filthy filthy filthy.

      1. People in the UK do not save money if they have to buy the wood for their stoves. To buy wood is very expensive over here and not many people have sufficient land to harvest their own wood. I have a wood burner simply because I have access to free wood from a local landowner provided I cut it myself. Most people use their wood burners very rarely because wood is so expensive. Wood burners have become a bit fashionable in some urban areas and I suspect they are only lit when friends come round for a meal etc.

      2. “But if it didn’t, your air will have been filthy filthy filthy.”

        It won’t be remotely close to how filthy it was when the main fuel for both domestic heating and industrial power was coal – and pretty dirty coal at that.

        One night in the winter of 1965/66 I and a friend were standing on the junction of Monton Road and Half Edge Lane in Eccles, Manchester. It is a fairly long straight road, and looking up towards the Monton roundabout around 15 sodium vapour street lights are visible. There was a sodium street light about twenty feet directly above my head. Suddenly I noticed that the farthest street light up Monton Road had disappeared… and then the next nearest… and so on.

        When there was only one visible street left, we saw what looked like a slanted wall approaching it… and then it went out too.

        Then the one immediately above our heads disappeared out, and we were left in a sort of brown murk, totally unable to see our hands in front of our faces. As we contemplated the situation, we heard an engine approaching along the road towards the junction, clearly in low gear. Then there was a crunch, and the engine stopped. We felt our way out into the road and found a BMC Mini which had collided with an illuminated ‘Keep Left’ bollard in the centre of the junction. The driver got out, and we found that sitting in the car, it was impossible to see the illuminated bollard, less than thirty inches from the windscreen.

        I had a Hell of a job getting the three quarters of a mile home that night , what with finding my way along the canal towpath, finding the footbridge by feel and what have you, it took me nearly two hours. Manchester ground to halt for three days, no buses, no trains, nothing.

        That was the last real smog that afflicted Manchester, and was quite a frightening event. I’m told by my wife that London could be even worse, not necessarily more intense, but of greater duration. The ‘Potteries’ around Stoke-on-Trent were worse still. Those photos of London smogs where you can see the skyline are fraudulent, when you got a proper one, you couldn’t see ten feet, never mind to the dome of St. Pauls.

        Then the ‘Clean Air Act’ took effect, all burning in domestic fireplaces of non-smokeless fuel was banned, and the building of the big power stations like Drax meant that the Lancashire boilers and steam were replaced by electric motors.

        There will never, never be anything remotely as bad as that again, no matter how many wood burning stoves appear, they will never match the pollution emitted by tens of millions of domestic coal fires and tens of thousands of Lancashire boilers, to say nothing of the steelworks, coke ovens and the small foundries that abounded in the industrial North.

        Even in the country, everything was black, the walls, the houses, even the sheep. I was amazed when at the age of about ten, my family went to Scotland, and I realised that sheep were actually white! Even now, it is possible to see on some of the houses in the overhang under the eaves how black the stonework is where it has not been washed off by half a century of rain.

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