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Highland MSP seeks urgent clarification over woodburning stove ban in new-build properties

By Gavin Musgrove

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Kate Forbes wants urgent clarification from the Scottish Government. Picture: James Mackenzie.
Kate Forbes wants urgent clarification from the Scottish Government. Picture: James Mackenzie.

Highland MSP Kate Forbes has written to the Scottish Government urging them to clarify what appears to be a ban on woodburning stoves in new-build properties.

The local politician has warned that the ripple effects could detrimentally impact the region.

Ms Forbes has said updated Building Standards released by the government show that solid fuel and woodburning stoves are no longer permitted in newbuild construction.

It is understood that stoves were initially deemed to be permissible as a secondary heat source – for example as a back-up during power cuts – but social media reports suggest this too has now been outlawed.

The changes apply to building warrants for all new buildings submitted after 1 April 2024.

The MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch was also critical of new restrictions in the same guidance to stop woodland crofts using their own timber.

Ms Forbes said: “This new guidance has left Highland householders amazed and bemused at the complete lack of understanding about energy use and heating systems in rural Scotland.

“Wood burning stoves can be 100 per cent net zero and sustainable. It is a local source of fuel for many, especially woodland crofters.

“Given the high level of fuel poverty in my constituency, as well as astronomical energy prices, an outright ban fails to recognise the everyday challenges of rural life.

“Over 75 per cent of responses to the 2022 consultation on heating said there would likely be unintended consequences from the government’s approach – with grid infrastructure/capacity and rurality cited as the top two concerns.

“It would appear these issues remain unresolved.

“Parts of my constituency had power cuts at the weekend with the high winds – and many homes depend solely on stoves for heat during such outages. Elderly residents in particular, at great risk of fuel poverty and the health risks of cold housing, often prefer woodburning stoves.

“Whilst this new rule applies only to new-builds, the ripple effects will likely be felt by considerably more as manufacturers and retailers could decide to scale back.

“New builds will be just as subject to the same risks of fuel poverty and unaffordable energy prices, with new build householders keen to use local, sustainable fuel - and in the Highlands it’s unlikely that solar panels or heat pumps alone will meet that need.

“Meeting our net zero targets cannot come at the risk of plunging the most vulnerable into fuel poverty.”

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