Wood-burning stove

Claim Scottish Government has banned wood-burning stoves is Half True

Scotland’s climate strategy has led to significant policy changes in recent years. 

Homes and heating are part of the Scottish Government’s commitment to reductions in carbon emissions, and recently claims about a change to rules around wood-burning stoves went viral on social media. 

Wood-burning stoves have now been banned by the Scottish Government.

Social media posts

Ferret Fact Service looked at this claim and found it Half True

Ferret Fact Service | Scotland's impartial fact check project

Evidence

The media coverage of this issue was ignited when a thread was posted by an architecture firm on social media platform, X, about changes to heating standards which came into force in April 2024. 

The first tweet in the thread contained the sentence, “Woodburning stoves have now been banned by the Scottish Government”. This was retweeted by a number of prominent accounts. 

This refers to what is known as the new build heat standard, which is a change to building regulations in Scotland, and means that “direct emission heating (DEH)” cannot be used in newly built buildings, and some conversions. 

Direct emission heating includes gas or oil boilers, and bioenergy, where electricity or heat is generated from organic substances such as wood. 

This means that, in practice, a developer would not be able to install a wood burning stove to heat a new building. 

New buildings will need to use alternatives such as heat pumps or heat networks, where heat is supplied from a central hub to multiple homes through a series of pipes.

The new standard applies for new building warrants from 1 April 2024. This means that it will not apply on all newly completed buildings after this date, because many will have been in development and construction before the law came in. 

Old buildings and existing wood-burning stoves will not be affected by the change in rules. This was made clear in the architecture firm’s series of tweets on X. 

It will also be possible to install a wood-burning stove in an existing property.

It is also technically allowable for a wood-burning stove to be built by a homeowner of a new build property after it has been constructed and sold, but many new build homes will be built without chimneys. This is because the rules apply to builders, rather than the owners of buildings after they are constructed.

There are also some other exceptions, including emergency heating and heating used to stop the impacts of frost on things like water pipes. 

The Scottish Government guidance states that in “smaller buildings, including dwellings, there will be little justification to install emergency heating as heat demand on failure of the normal heating system can usually be addressed simply and easily through use of independent, portable heaters”. However the government confirmed that wood burners would be allowed in these circumstances. 

However, any applicant for a building warrant will need to justify the “risk that failure of the normal heating system creates for occupants and the likelihood of such a failure (e.g. increased risk of loss of electrical supply in remote rural areas due to adverse weather)”.

There has been concern over the policy in some rural communities, where wood-burning stoves are often used as an alternative when there is a power cut. This can happen fairly regularly in winter, so alternative heat provision can be essential for some homeowners. Donna Smith, chief executive at Scottish Crofting Federation told BBC Scotland that the policy had not been through “rural-proofing”.

“I understand why this decision makes sense, in a city, but there’s no ‘rural-proofing’ we can see at all in this policy, and that’s what we’d like to look at,” she said. 

Ferret Fact Service verdict: Half True

Wood-burning stoves, along with other heat sources considered to directly cause emissions will not be allowed in new buildings applying for building warrants after 1 April 2024. However, they are not being banned in general. Current wood-burning stoves can remain in place, and existing homes can still install them.

This claim is half true.

Ferret Fact Service (FFS) is a non-partisan fact checker, and signatory to the International Fact-Checking Network fact-checkers’ code of principles.

All the sources used in our checks are publicly available and the FFS fact-checking methodology can be viewed here.

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Photo credit: iStock/Teamjackson

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