The Scottish Government has confirmed that wood burning stoves can still be installed in new houses but only "to provide emergency heating, where a need can be justified."

Changes to the building standards - the regulations governing the requirements for all building in Scotland - came in last week, forbidding the use of 'direct emission heating systems.'

Effectively, that means that new houses and conversions are not allowed to use gas or oil boilers, or any form of bioenergy where electricity or heat is generated from organic matter such as wood.

Instead, housebuilders are expected to use what are known as 'zero DEH' systems such as heat pumps, solar thermal storage systems or electric storage heaters.

READ MORE: Explained: Has Scotland banned wood-burning stoves?

There was some confusion over whether stoves would be allowed as a backup.

While the regulations say that the use of direct emission heating systems is permitted for emergency heating, it says that 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".

It goes on to say that 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."

However, after questions were raised on social media, the Scottish Government explicitly confirmed wood burning stoves and "other heating systems that cause emissions" would be allowed "where a need can be justified."

News of the ban caught many people by surprise. 

The Isle of Eigg X account said the decision would be a “disaster" for communities like theirs were people were trying build new homes and renovate others.

They added: “They are a key part of our net zero by 2030 strategy. Practical & cheap to fit compared to heat pumps etc. They provide hot water in winter when solar thermal can't. Island timber harvesting provides local affordable fuel & jobs.”

READ MORE: 'Startling' figures show historic Highland county 'in rapid decline'

Kate Forbes, the MSP for Skye, Lochaber & Badenoch said she was “seeking urgent clarification” from the Scottish Government.

She tweeted: "I see many replies dismissing legit concerns cos “everybody should have known about this already” & it’s only for new builds.  My inbox suggests most in rural Scotland disagree."

Taking to X, Patrick Harvie, the Scottish Government Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings said it was not accurate to say that he and colleagues had banned wood burning and biomass heating.

"This isn't true. I've seen people worried by these claims, thinking they'll be forced to rip out their wood burner! No, you won't," he said.

"What's changing is rules for new buildings and major conversions applying for a building warrant from this month. It has nothing to do with existing heating systems, or replacements that aren't part of a building conversion. There are exemptions for emergency heating systems too.

"This is because it's better, easier and cheaper to install clean heating systems from the outset, rather than go back and retrofit later."

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “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 woodburning 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.”