Islanders, rural communities and architects specialising in homes off-the-grid are up in arms after the Scottish Government quietly introduced a ban on wood-burning stoves. 

Concerns have been raised that the anti-carbon measure will block installing a much-needed back-up heat source, especially during winter when storm-related power cuts occur.  

But Ministers say the move is vital to ensuring Scotland works its way towards a zero-emission future, and insist it is the right thing for the environment.  

Here’s the lowdown on what the new laws say.

What’s been banned?  

The Scottish Government is keen to move away from carbon-emitting heat sources, so all new-build properties applied for after April 1 2024 are prohibited from installing system that rely on fossil or bio fuels.  

This means gas boilers and wood-burning stoves are now no longer allowed in new-build properties, which must be designed around an alternative heating source such as a ground pump, heat network or electric heaters.  

However, they say they can be installed in new homes "to provide emergency heating, where a need can be justified" - so an exemption does exist.

This is believed to be on a case-by-case basis, and would most likely apply in areas at highest risk of power cuts, such as rural communities. 

Will this affect the stove I have in my house? 

No – the ban only covers properties that have yet to be built. Existing wood-burners are fine, for now, and one can be installed in a new house if the building warrant – which lasts three years – was granted before April this year.  

The Herald: The Scottish Government wants to move from wood-burning stoves The Scottish Government wants to move from wood-burning stoves (Image: PA)

But I want to install a wood burner in my house. 

This also appears to be fine – it's not a ban on the industry, it’s a ban on installing wood-burners in new-build properties.  

So, what’s to stop me installing a stove once my house is built?  

Nothing currently. However, architects have said that flues and chimneys will not be included on new-build properties, meaning these would also have to be added to install a stove, hugely increasing the cost.  

READ MORE: Scottish Government bans wood burning stoves in new builds

But the Scottish Government is currently carrying out a consultation on how Scots heat existing properties, and is looking to bring in new laws in the future.  

The Herald: Not coming to a new-build near you .... Not coming to a new-build near you .... (Image: PA)

Why are people upset?  

Many people in rural communities rely on wood-burning stoves to heat their homes when the power goes out – and this can be frequent in winter. So the new law, which came in at the start of April, will deny anyone building a home from now on to rely on this resource.  

There are also warnings it will hit both the industry which supplies and maintains wood-burning stoves, as well as the timber businesses which supply the fuel.

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These are economic lifelines for some rural communities – leading to accusations the policy is one dreamt up in the Central belt without considering the impact it would have in further-flung settlements.

What has the Scottish Government said?

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."  

They added: “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.”