PEOPLE who own wood burners and open fires are being encouraged by their local council to follow certain steps to reduce people's exposure to harmful pollutants and improve air quality.

South Lakeland District Council (SLDC) has put together tougher rules for those with wood burners and open stoves to follow as well as some advice from the government's new Clean Air Strategy which outlines ways to tackle harmful emissions.

According to the strategy, burning solid fuel such as wood or coal in open fires and stoves accounts for 38 per cent of the UK’s emission of particulate matter, the single biggest polluter.

NHS England says around 30 per cent of preventable deaths in the country are due to non-communicable diseases specifically attributed to air pollution.

SLDC is asking owners to:

•Consider burning less - think about why you are lighting your fire, is it necessary? Not burning is the simplest way of reducing your costs and minimising your impact.

•Only burn dry wood. Buy ‘Ready to Burn’ fuel, look for the logo as a guarantee of good quality dry wood.

•Dry freshly chopped wood before burning as wet wood contains moisture which creates smoke and harmful particulates when burned.

•Use approved smokeless fuels instead of house coal. These produce less carbon and smoke, as well as providing more heat for your home.

•Maintain and service your stove every year.

•Ensure you chimney is swept regularly, up to two times a year is suggested by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

Councillor Dyan Jones, SLDC’s environment portfolio holder, said: “The majority of people are unaware that a wood burning stove fuelled by wet wood emits more particles per hour than a diesel truck.

“That is why we are asking owners of wood burners and open stoves to follow these simple steps. This will ensure they are using their solid fuel appliances efficiently, which will reduce pollution and limit owners’ exposure to harmful pollutants.”