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Will air rules put a damper on our oven?

My husband wants to make the most of the British summer this year by installing a wood-burning pizza oven outside in our garden in north London. However, I'm concerned over changes to the rules over wood-burning stoves (we have one of them as well) -- what will the new restrictions mean for us? Should I tell hubby to forget about the alfresco forno? 

Don’t be too hasty – we all love a home-made pizza, burnt at the edges and tasting of wood smoke.  The Government isn’t planning on banning entirely wood-burning stoves, wood-fired pizza ovens or fire bowls, just introducing some restrictions.

Restrictions – what like no pizza-Saturdays?

Quite possibly.  One of the ideas suggested, and they are just proposals out for consultation at the moment, is to have ‘no burn days’, where a local council can stop you firing up the pizza oven when air pollution hits certain limits.

OK, that sort of sounds sensible.  What other restrictions?

There are also proposals to restrict what type of fuel can be burnt. The Government want us to use properly seasoned wood as it burns cleaner with less smoke emissions than recently cut, or green wood. 

How will this be policed? Will we have wood-smoke snoopers?

The details have not yet been announced, but that might not be too far off the truth. The proposals suggest that local authorities will police the new regulations, and that might include local patrols. As we all know, local authority resources are quite stretched so it will be interesting to see how this might work in practice.

I seem to recall we already live in a smoke free zone, so what is different?

Smoke free zones have been with us since the 1950s, introduced to cut smog. The idea is to restrict what households can burn to minimise air pollution, which typically means that only certain types of smokeless fuels can be used. Wood-burning stoves are exempt from these rules, but their increased popularity in urban areas is contributing to air pollution which is why the regulations are under review.

So we can continue to still enjoy the outdoor kitchen?

Absolutely, but one final word of caution. If your pizza oven is part of a covered or part-covered outdoor kitchen with a chimney to take smoke away, only authorised smoke free fuels can be used. Your local authority will be able to tell you what those are.

This article first appeared in the Financial Times, 1 June 2018. Learn more about our Property services here.

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