ON April 1, new building regulations came into force in Scotland which banned wood-burning stoves – as well as oil and gas boilers – from being installed in new-build homes.

Allegations of “misinformation” and “disinformation” have swirled since the new regulations were highlighted by Highlands-based architect MACARC, which is based in Oban and run by Alasdair MacMillan.

MacMillan had raised concerns that the regulations would see a “sustainable, renewable heat source … outlawed”.

Those were shared by the SNP MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, Kate Forbes, who called for the Government to urgently clarify the new regulations.

Here is everything you need to know about the new regulations which 'ban' wood-burning stoves.

What do the building regulations ‘banning’ wood-burning stoves actually say?

The regulations appear in the April 2024 version of the Domestic Technical Handbook issued by the Scottish Government.

The relevant section is Mandatory Standard 6.11.

This states: “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.

“Limitation: This standard does not apply to: a) alterations to, or extension of, a pre-2024 building; b) emergency heating; c) heating provided solely for the purpose of frost protection.”

So are wood-burning stoves banned in Scotland?

Overall, no. Houses which currently use wood-burning stoves will still be allowed to use them. Houses already in existence will also be allowed to install them.

The new rules only apply to new-build homes, which will not be permitted to have a wood-burning stove installed.

Furthermore, if an existing building undergoes major conversion work, then it should also have any wood-burning stove removed “where the existing heat source for that system was located within a part of the building which is subject to conversion”.

The guidelines say this applies to conversions “subject to such action being reasonably practicable”.

Can I get an exemption to have a wood-burning stove in a new-build for emergency purposes?

The National: Scottish Green Party co-leader Patrick Harvie speaks to the media ahead of the Scottish Green Party

The Scottish Government and Zero Carbon Buildings Minister Patrick Harvie (above) have stressed that there “are exemptions for emergency heating systems” – meaning some new-build homes may have wood-burning stoves installed.

However, the regulations suggest that the bar for an exemption is very high and unlikely to be met by a normal dwelling.

They state: “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. Portable heaters are not subject to building regulations.

“Emergency heating via a fixed installation becomes a consideration where the size, complexity or heat demand of a building makes portable solutions non-viable or difficult to manage effectively.”

Can I install a wood-burning stove in my home?

As long as your home was built before under a building warrant granted before April 1, 2024, the new regulations do not apply – except where the building was originally constructed or converted to meet the 2024 New Building Heat Standard.

As such, people who own homes in Scotland now will still be allowed to install wood-burning stoves.

However, the regulations say that, for “any ‘pre-2024 building’, developers should again be aware that there will likely be a future requirement to install a [zero direct emissions heating] ZDEH system prior to 2045”.

They add: “Accordingly, it may be more cost effective to install ZDEH when considering alteration or extension of the building or replacement of the heat source.”

Where can I find the full building regulations where all of this is spelled out?

The Scottish Government's Building Standards Division issued a new Domestic Technical Handbook for April 2024. You can find it in full here.

What has the Scottish Government said on wood-burning stove ‘ban’?

Responding to the speculation around the impact of the new building regulations, the Scottish Government issued a statement.

It said, in full: “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 April 1, 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.”