No Smoke Without Fire?
Michael Gove has set out plans to ban the most polluting log burner and open fire fuels as part of a strategy to tackle air pollution. Gove has had to resolve pollution issues from many different sources, including pollutants coming from inside the home. Both Gove and the World Health Organisation have identified Particulate Matter as a particular concern as it has been identified as the most damaging particle for people. A startling statistic from the WHO, shows that around 92% of the world’s population live in places where the air quality exceeds that of the recommended guidelines.
More shockingly, a World Health Organisation study found that in the UK over 40 cities have exceeded their air quality limit. This is where Michael Gove’s plans can make a massive difference. Alongside banning the sale of the most polluting fuels, it has been outlined that only the cleanest stoves are available to purchase by 2022. The BBC reported that stoves and open fires are the largest source of Particulate Matter, suggesting that Gove’s plans are addressing the main issues at hand. There is a direct financial benefit to improving the air quality around the UK. The Government have predicted that by 2030, there will be cost cuts of £5.3 billion a year which will be directly attributed to better public health.
There will be opposition to the rulings, especially those that will affect people in their own homes. Any house that contains an open fire that requires fuel, will now face restrictions on what they can burn. For example, wet wood and coal will likely be be phased out from general sale, so businesses and the public alike will have to find an alternative fuel for their fires. With this, Gove’s plans outline that local authorities will have more power in existing smoke control burning areas. They will be able to implement rules which only enable smokeless fuels to be burned in their jurisdiction.
When judging whether Gove’s plans are justified, both the positives and negatives must be taken into consideration. The fact that over 40 cities in the UK have exceeded their air quality limit and that stoves and open fires are the biggest polluters of the most harmful pollutant Particulate Matter, justify Gove’s plans as actions obviously need to be taken. With this, the Government will be able to save over £5.6 billion a year, which could be reinvested back into clean energy which will benefit the industry massively. However it is understandable that the public may oppose the plans, as it will directly affect their finances as they will need to find a new fuel type. One thing is clear though, the fact that Michael Gove is taking a strong stance on the issue of pollution and has set out affective guidelines, which will benefit the country and industry as a whole.