LATEST NEWS...Defra has extended the deadline on moisture compliance for pre-packed coal / wood until 1st May 2021. Many of you will be aware of HM Government's pronouncements on the domestic burning of Traditional Coal, Smokeless Solid Fuels and Firewood and its effect on the environment. From calls we have received, it is obvious that there is a degree of misunderstanding as to what is being proposed.

The following summary of information confirmed by The Coal Merchants Federation and Sold Fuel Association may help to explain the situation:

Traditional House Coal

  • From 1st May 2021 all sales of prepacked house coal will be banned.
  • Members of the Approved Coal Merchants Scheme will still be able to deliver loose house coal in bulk bags to customers' premises until April 2023.

These rulings will mean that from 1st May 2021 you will not be able to buy prepacked house coal from any retail outlet such as supermarkets, garden centres, garages or as things stand, coal merchants. However, if you normally receive a bulk delivery of coal from your merchant tipped into a bunker or shed, you will be able to continue with that arrangement until April 2023 as long as your merchant is a member of the Approved Coal Merchants Scheme (such as ourselves). From April 2023 you will not be able to legally purchase traditional house coal from any source.

Manufactured Smokeless Fuels

  • From 1st May 2021 manufactured smokeless fuels that have a sulphur content of more than 2% and produce more smoke than 5g per hour will be banned.

The above limits are those applied currently to existing manufactured smokeless fuels approved by Defra. However, there are some fuels on the market that are sold as smokeless fuel but which breach these conditions. They are normally at the cheaper end of the market. It is these fuels which will be banned. All existing Defra approved fuels will still be freely available and may continue to be used.

Anthracite, although a natural coal not a manufactured smokeless fuel, does meet the Defra requirements and is therefore considered smokeless. It will still be readily available and may continue to be used after 1st May 2021.


  • From 1st May 2021 firewood sold in quantities smaller than 2 cu metres will have to adhere to a maximum moisture content of no greater than 20%.

To discourage use of "wet" wood, normal sized domestic deliveries will not be allowed to have a moisture content greater than 20%. The retailer will be required to certify that wood supplied does meet that requirement. Kiln-dried wood should always reach that requirement but it is also possible to meet the requirement with barn-dried wood if the correct seasoning process is employed.

Despite representations from the industry, Defra is still insisting that the ban on sales of pre-packed coal will apply to all outlets. Even Approved Coal Merchants will not be able to sell pre-packed coal from 1st May 2021 – either as a delivered product or a yard collection.

If you are likely to be affected by these regulations, please talk to us as we can advise you on suitable fuel alternatives.

The full details of HM Governments proposed actions can be found by using the link below: