THE Scottish Government has been asked to give “urgent clarification” on whether wood-burning stoves have been banned for new build houses in Scotland.

Kate Forbes, the former finance secretary and the MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, called on the Government to make a statement after a Highlands-based architect drew attention to new building regulations.

As of April 1, building standard 6.11 in Scotland’s Domestic Technical Handbook states that: “Every building must be designed and constructed in such a way that the means by which space within the building is heated or cooled and by which hot water is made available in the building is not by means of a direct emission heating system."

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Direct emission heating systems (DEHS) encompass oil and gas boilers and bioenergy sources, including wood-burning stoves.

The new regulations further state that a building which undergoes a conversion cannot retain a wood-burning stove, or other DEHS, if it is located within the part of the building being converted.

MACARC architects, which is based in Oban and run by Alasdair MacMillan, highlighted the changes on Twitter/X.

“Woodburning stoves have now been banned by the Scottish Government,” MacMillan wrote.

“From April 1, 2024 (last Monday), fossil and bio fuel heating systems will not be permitted in newbuild construction. As well as oil and gas heating, log boilers will be banned, as will solid fuel and woodburning stoves.

“While there is a clause referring to Emergency Heating (6.11.2) which permits alternative heat sources as a backup, this will not extend to stoves. This is a seismic change, and one that has not been explicitly publicised.”

The Government’s building regulations say that, for 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”.

MacMillan went on: “We had previously sought clarification on 6.11 and had been advised that stoves would be permitted as a secondary heat source. Sensible, particularly in rural areas where power cuts are not uncommon. However there has now been a U-turn, and woodburning stoves are history.

“What was until last week a sustainable, renewable heat source, will be outlawed. As well as removing an essential backup source of heat for many, off-grid properties will no longer be able to use wood stoves. Woodland crofts will not be able to use their own timber.”

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Responding to the architect, Forbes (above) said Highlanders had been raising concerns.

“This has just been brought to my attention by more than a few concerned Highlanders who heat their homes (as thousands do) using woodburning stoves, especially older residents who rely on them during a time of crippling energy price rises,” Forbes wrote.

“I’m seeking urgent clarification.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson responded: “Heating our homes and buildings represents about a fifth of Scotland’s carbon emissions so tackling the climate emergency requires us to address these emissions.

“Proposals in the New Build Heat Standard, which came into force from 1 April 2024, were widely consulted on in 2021 and again in 2022. Both consultations showed strong support for the new Standard. The changes mean that new homes and buildings do not contribute to climate emissions, by banning the use of polluting heating systems such as oil and gas boilers, and bioenergy – including wood-burning stoves.

“Existing homes are completely unaffected as the standard will not apply to the installation of heating in homes and buildings built before 2024. Wood burning stoves and other heating systems that cause emissions can also still be installed in new homes to provide emergency heating, where a need can be justified – responding to feedback from rural communities.

“Separately, the Scottish Government has recently finished consulting on plans for introducing clean heating systems in existing homes and buildings and is currently considering responses. This included proposals around the use of bioenergy and measures to prohibit the use of polluting heating systems in all buildings after 2045.”