Understanding new Coal and Firewood Laws

Whether you’re a coal merchant, retailer or customer of traditional house coal, smokeless fuels or firewood, some big changes are on the way. 

In order to better protect the environment, the government and Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has implemented new laws placed on the sale of such products from May 2021. 


Traditional house coal



If you’re a buyer or seller of traditional house coal, then you need to be aware that as of the 1st of May 2021 the sale of prepacked house coals will be banned. This means that no coal merchant, supermarket, garden centre or any other retailer will be able to sell the fuel. 

However, delivery directly to your home can continue as long as you’re ordering from a member of the Approved Coal Merchants Scheme. But, these deliveries will only be legal until April 2023, at which time people will need to seek an alternative fuel source. 


Smokeless Fuels

smokeless coal


Restrictions will also be brought in regarding the sale of smokeless fuels. As of the 1st of May 2021, smokeless fuels which contain more than 2% of sulphur, and release more than 5g of smoke per hour, will be banned in the UK. These requirements have been outlined by the DEFRA. 

Fuels that are not considered ‘smokeless’ but still breach these regulations will also be banned. On the other hand, Anthracite which is a natural coal as opposed to a smokeless fuel does meet these requirements so can continue to be sold.  





Any coal merchants that sell firewood need to be aware of new laws relating to wet wood. The burning of wet wood can increase the amount of smoke, and the chemical creosote, which is harmful to the environment. To counteract this, from the 1st of May 2021, wood that is sold smaller than 2 cubic metres will need to have a moisture content that is no more than 20% Any firewood that holds a greater moisture content than that will no longer be allowed to be sold.  


What happens if I don’t follow the new rules?

By bringing in these new laws, the government and DEFRA are hoping to see a demonstrable change in the environmental impact of these materials. With this in mind, the consequences of not complying will be severe. 

The government will be carrying out regular enforcement checks to ensure that coal merchants and retailers are complying with the new regulations. Any businesses found to be breaching the new rules will be struck with a substantial fine. 

For more information please contact us on 01279 794246