An SNP MSP from a largely rural constituency has told The Herald she has some concerns over the Scottish Government’s ban on wood-burning stoves.

Elena Whitham said depopulation was a real issue in her area and there was a need for “new housing that will remain fit for purpose over time in all weather conditions.”

The MSP for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley said there needed to be some clarity around the "emergency" exemption in the New Build Heat Standard.

READ MORE: Leading architect slams 'crazy' ban on wood-burning stoves

The former drugs and alcohol minister is to push the government on the matter during Thursday’s Social Justice questions in Holyrood.

Meanwhile, Tory MSP Rachel Hamilton has secured a topical question on the new regulations on Tuesday afternoon.

The rules require all new Scottish homes and buildings to install “climate-friendly heating systems” and forbid the use of direct emission heating (DEH) systems in any house where the building warrant was applied for after April 1.

Effectively, this 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.

However, the new rules say that there are exceptions for DEH systems permitted for emergency heating.

Those applying for the exemption will need to show the “risk that failure of the normal heating system creates for occupants and the likelihood of such a failure (e.g. increased risk of loss of electrical supply in remote rural areas due to adverse weather)”.

Ms Whitam told The Herald it was not clear how that would work in practice.

She said: “My constituency is a vast, largely rural one with many off grid dwellings in remote areas. My concern is that I want to clarify and understand what is meant by ‘emergency supply’ and how a new build will be able to demonstrate a need for it.”

Ms Whitham added: “We have had experience of power being off for days in parts of Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley and people using stoves not only for heating but also for cooking.

“I am four-square behind the need to reduce emissions but I also represent an area that is depopulating and needs new housing that will remain fit for purpose over time in all weather conditions.”

Over the weekend, Kate Forbes, the SNP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch described the wording for "what constitutes an emergency is woolly.”

Writing in our sister paper, The National, the former finance secretary added: "A power cut affects every home equally badly, irrespective of when the house was built.

"The well-insulated modern home may last a bit longer, but with several days of power cuts these days, even they might need to stick a fire on.

"You’ll be able to spot the new builds in a power cut easily – they’ll all be huddled around a big bonfire in the garden trying to stay warm."

READ MORE: Scottish ban on wood burning stoves in new builds takes effect

Responding to questions about the exemption previously, a Scottish Government spokesperson suggested there could be a “review” of the guidance.

They told the Herald on Sunday: “There is no ban on wood-burning stoves.

“The New Build Heat Standard applies only to new buildings applying for a building warrant from 1 April 2024. Under the Standard wood burning stoves can still be installed in new homes to provide emergency heating where required.

"This recognises the unique needs of Scotland’s rural communities.

“Proposals for the New Build Heat Standard were subject to full consultation in 2021 and again in 2022, and both consultations showed strong support.

“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.

"That is why 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 consultation recognised that bioenergy systems, like wood-burning stoves, are a renewable, and in many cases, a net zero form of heating which may be the best solution for some homes – especially in rural Scotland.

“That is why we asked for views on how to ensure a flexible approach which still enables the use of bioenergy heating systems as we move towards net zero.

“We will continue engaging with and supporting local authorities to ensure that the regulations are implemented appropriately. This will allow us to identify any need to review elements of the guidance if required - this is part of the regular implementation process.”