The first Clean Air Night, which aims to make the public more aware of the dangers associated with wood burning, takes place tomorrow, with an official start time of 4:35pm.
Conceived as a sister-event to the well-established Clean Air Day, Clean Air Night has been developed using the latest research into how to communicate about wood burning, recently shared with the sector in a toolkit produced by Global Action Plan in partnership with Impact on Urban Health, behavioural experts Kantar and creative agency Dog, Cat & Mouse.
Matthew Clark, Programme Manager – Air Quality at Hertfordshire County Council, the funders of the first Clean Air Night, said: ‘The amount of harmful small particle air pollution caused by domestic burning has more than doubled over the past ten years in the UK. Local authorities are uniquely placed to take action on this growing issue and protect the health of their residents. That’s why Hertfordshire County Council is proud to be supporting the first-ever Clean Air Night campaign, and we encourage other councils and organisations to join us in starting a national conversation on the harms of wood burning.’
Listen to more about Clean Air Night in this podcast with Global Action Plan’s Tessa Bartholomew-Good
Many other local authorities are getting involved in the event, with those featured below just a small sample:
Councillor Jim Smith, Executive member for Environment at Blackburn and Darwen, said: ‘I’m really pleased we are supporting the first ever Clean Air Night campaign. The fact is that wood smoke air pollution is often unseen as it builds up in neighbourhoods after dark when people light their log burners in the early evening, and this can affect people’s health in many ways.
‘It’s really important people understand the cost that wood burning can have to their health, the health of their communities around them, and to their wallet as well.’
Environmental Health Officers will be visiting people over the next few weeks and giving advice to anybody where they see significant smoke emissions.
Councillor Raj Visram, Lead for Climate for St Albans City and District Council, said: ‘People may like the idea of sitting around a roaring fire such as a wood burning stove. Wood burning seems like a natural source of heat, but there are a lot of myths surrounding the practice that we want to make our residents aware of.
‘The uncomfortable truth is that lighting fires in our homes has become the largest source of small particle air pollution in the UK. Smoke causes air pollution and is a health hazard while it tends to be a more expensive way of heating your home than conventional means.
‘We hope people will take notice of this and support this important campaign by keeping the skies clear on Wednesday 24 January and for the rest of the year.’
Cabinet Lead for Environment at Eastleigh Borough Council, Councillor, Rupert Kyrle said, ‘We are proud to be supporting this important local campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of wood burning for residents. The key things to remember are to burn less, burn cleaner and burn better – to improve clean air in the Borough – then simply save the 24 January 2024 date for your diary for the first-ever Clean Air Night!’
Councillor David Tucker, cabinet member for Adults, Health and Care at East Riding of Yorkshire Council said: ‘We are supporting the Global Action Plan and joining the action to raise awareness of the harms that are mostly unknown.
‘Rural areas like the East Riding tend to have higher reliance on alternative heating fuels, like wood burners or oil heating. We know that the glow of a fire or wood burner is associated with comfort, but the evidence is showing that it damages health and the environment.’
Cllr Kate Ravilious, Joint Executive Member for Environment and Climate Emergency at City of York Council, said: ‘Using a wood burner or solid fuel stove triples the level of harmful air pollution in your home and even the wood burning stoves that meet the highest eco-design standards emit 750 times more tiny particles than a modern HGV truck.
‘Clean Air Night is an opportunity to raise awareness of the dangers of burning solid fuels in the home, on alternative heat sources, and when it is the only option, the best way to do so to protect yourself and your loved ones.’
Cllr Jo Coles, Executive Member for Health, Wellbeing and Adult Social Care at City of York Council, added: ‘It’s really worrying that people in York could be dying because of air pollution caused by something as simple as the burning of wood and coal. Yet we know that exposure to smoke particles can cause a wide range of serious health problems, including heart and lung disease and mental health disorders.
‘This campaign is about increasing awareness of the dangers and enabling people to find healthy and cost-effective ways to heat their homes and reduce unnecessary air pollution.’
Cllr Neil Reeve, portfolio holder for environment and climate change at Uttlesford District Council, said: ‘We are very pleased to be involved in the first Clean Air Night. We know from the survey that there is a very high use of wood burners in Saffron Walden and we want to use the occasion to highlight the impacts that this has on people’s health and the environment.’