A NEW Scottish government under John Swinney should revisit the recently introduced ban on wood-burning stoves in new-build houses, the director of a family firm in the industry has said.

Speaking to the Sunday National, Andrew Dolby said that selling stoves for new builds represented around 30% of his company’s business, and that was expected to evaporate.

Dolby runs the Inverness-based wood stove firm Bonk and Co alongside his son Alex, and his brother runs the Perth-based Burning Question, which is also in the industry.

Speaking about the ban, Dolby said: “It’s a big jar to us. It really is.

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“The big issue for us is this was supposed to be on the basis of carbon – and a stove is low carbon. It's one of the lowest forms of heating in terms of producing carbon. That's the strange thing.

“There's a lack of joined-up thinking. Why would you ban something that actually works for you rather than works against you?”

He added: "When [energy] prices were going through the roof, it was a way people could heat their houses and save money. And that's always been the case.

"If you look back historically, whenever, say, oil prices have rocketed, traditionally, people across the Highlands and Islands would turn to wood-burning stoves."

The intervention comes after the Stove Industry Association (SIA) trade body lodged a petition with the Scottish Parliament calling for a U-turn on the ban. The SIA said wood-burning stoves “are the lowest carbon emitting heating available for homes, with a carbon intensity 1/19th of direct electric heating”.

The ban on wood-burning stoves in new-build Scottish homes came into effect on April 1, alongside a similar ban on oil and gas boilers.

The Scottish Government stressed that there are exemptions “for emergency heating systems”. However, the regulations suggest that there will be “little justification” for an exemption in normal dwellings.

Dolby said that he appreciated the issues of air quality had factored into the Government’s decision to implement a ban, but added: “There aren't the issues that they make out if you actually use a new stove.

“You need to encourage people to replace old open fires and old stoves with modern stoves because they are incredibly clean burning.

“You need to combine that with making sure that people burn dry wood – and that's something that hasn't happened in Scotland yet. In England, they've banned the sale of wet wood, but that hasn't happened in Scotland and it needs to do so.”

The SIA said modern stoves (defined as Ecodesign compliant) produce up to 80% less than many older stove models.

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Asked if he had been aware of the ban before it came into effect, Dolby said they had known around a month ahead of time.

He added: “It certainly did sneak up on us. I think it's like a lot of these things, they say there's been consultation – but who have they consulted?

“Genuinely, they haven't consulted anybody with any influence in our industry.”

In a briefing paper, the SIA also raised concerns about the consultation, saying: “Why were industry bodies not directly consulted on the New Build Heat Standard or Heat In Buildings Bill?

“This seems particularly important as the impact on the stove industry is significant. The SIA has always willingly engaged with the Scottish Government … and has been approached on other consultations.”

Previously, the Scottish Government said that proposals for the new building regulations, which include the bans on oil and gas boilers and wood-burning stoves, “were widely consulted on in 2021 and again in 2022”. A spokesperson added: “Both consultations showed strong support for the new standard.”

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Asked if he was hoping a new minority Scottish government led by Swinney – without the Greens – would revisit the ban, Dolby said: “We definitely are. I think there's a very good case for them doing so.

“What you find in a lot of Scandinavian countries is that when they fit heat pumps – and they've been fitting heat pumps for a lot longer than we have – that they certainly recommend you fit a stove along with it.

“Heat pumps are very one level. You can't change the temperature in the house very quickly and they are a low-temperature form of heating. A stove is the ideal partner to a heat pump.”

Swinney’s team and the Scottish Government were approached for comment.