Subsidising Air Pollution

This morning in London started quite beautifully. Spring was in evidence in every tree and shrub and there was a warm feeling to the start of the day. The sky was clear and the air felt clean, but things were not as they appeared. 

Today London and the whole of the South of England is suffering from a dangerous level of air pollution. This was not evidenced in smog and fog and in fact there was no evidence that you could perceive with your eyes of the pollution that fills the air. However, if you suffer from a heart condition or are asthmatic or suffer from emphysema or are old you have been warned not to exercise vigorously because to do so would put you at risk and if you can stay indoors.

Warm still air has created ideal conditions for particulate pollution from this country and North West Europe to combine with Saharan dust which as I write has caused pollution levels in the air to be at their highest on the scale that measures these things. If the forecasters are right to air pollution should be blown away by tomorrow. Let us hope that they are right.

As humans we do so many things which are bad and wrong and which endanger others. Polluting the air is one of them. It is odd that successive UK governments have encouraged burning which is the prime culprit when it comes to air quality. In the UK we now have ridiculous subsidies for wood burning boilers. If you decide to heat your home and your hot water by burning wood then the taxpayer will reward you generously for the heat that your burning produces. There are no proper regulations or enforcement about air quality and the UK government simply leaves it to its taxpayers’ lungs to filter out the particulates that wood burning causes.

I have been warning about the hidden dangers of burning for many years but my warnings are ignored by civil servants and minsters who think they know better. I believe that rather than subsidise wood burning we should tax it so that we may pay for the damage to health that it creates, but what do I know?

5 Responses

  1. Wow, the Government ignored your warnings!

    Unfortunately I think the Government doesn’t listen to common sense, just ‘Big Business’

    As for taxing wood burning stoves, that seems very selfish and unfair to many who (unlike you) live in rural areas where (tree)wood for burning is a natural by-product (pruning, lopping, felling, gales etc)

    Wood burning stoves use local fuel which (if you believe the AGW codswallop) is carbon neutral. Yes ,there is smoke but no different to burning garden waste and nothing like as carcinogenic or polluting as car exhaust fumes. ( I presume you have a car) Equally less polluting than coal. Also wood ash is a natural fertiliser.

    Being a town dweller it seems you would rather pollute someone else’s town/country by using North sea /swedish/russian gas powered Power stations. Or drive-commute using Saudi/Nigerian oil and consequently lend financial support to the these countries’ undemocratic regimes.

    Unless, of course, you don’t use electricity or petrol?

    I agree that its nonsense to import wood chips from Canada as a so called environmentally sustainable source of energy for power stations.

    The pollution from diesel powered ships alone snookers that argument.

    If Government did tax wood burning stoves then (because of all other fuel taxes) we would effectively be being taxed for wanting to keep warm. Surely, if tax has any utility at all, it is not supposed to inhibit a basic human need.

    • Chris

      It might be wrong to suggest taxing wood burning in ways that would harm the rural community. The government could tax wood fuel that people buy, especially pellets. I strongly suggest that we should not subsidise it! Under the Renewable Heat Incentive people who fit wood burning boilers (in town or in country) get a subsidy of around 8 pence per kilowatt hour of heat generated for twenty years. Why?

      Burning petrol produces very few particulates. Burning diesel produces a lot as does burning oil and coal. Natural gas burns with no particulates.,

      This is not about global warming – it is about air quality.

      We have got enough taxes and I don’t want more, I just dont want the taxes wasted on things that create poor health.

      Finally I never accept that burning wood is carbon neutral, but that is a discussion for another day.

      Kala Pasha!

  2. Kalispera,

    I wholeheartedly agree, burning wood (free or purchased) should not be subsidised. I didn’t realise I could claim a subsidy for my stove.

    Many of my friends here in woodly Surrey have log stoves because wood is so plentiful. Especially since the EU has given many subsidies to golf courses and councils to clear woods for reptile habitats. (though I think there are actually more reptiles in the Houses of Parliament)

    The biggest attraction for us is the firelight glow on a cold winter’s afternoon.

    To hóverkráft mu íne gemáto hélia

    (PS I think I need a less pythonesque english-greek phrase book)

  3. Just another pollution issue.

    I awoke this morning (7am Sunday) to a sky covered in chem-trails. They stretch at regular intervals as far as the eye can see. The Government keeps quiet about this secret and deliberate pollution.

    I understand it is intended to reduce the effect of solar heating in the atmosphere but the effect of the use of nano particles surely must be suspect. Also, it reduces sunlight for plants thereby reducing the yield of crops.

    Why is this pollution acceptable?

  4. Hi Rob

    Here in sunny Richmond the morning was full of bird song early on, the wood stoves were all out and the air pure and clean, by 8pm tonight they will all be stoked up and blazing away again, releasing what nature locked has locked away many years ago, you know the saying, carbon neutral comes to mind.

    However if the hot water solar panels were easily affordable we would use these instead of logs/gass to heat our water and store it for two days or so until we needed more.

    We also awoke to clear blue skies but by mid day the trails closed out the sunlight and it rained steadily.

    And please excuse the pun, but we are barking up the wrong tree and living in such a place as things are noticeable in what is a false concept, IE, a city, get out to where the air is clear and the skies albeit clogged with air traffic pollution on a global scale and relax.

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