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It gets cold in rural Scotland and there are often power cuts. Tough.

Andy Wightman describes himself as a vegan who drives an electric car, does not fly, and lives much of the time off-grid using solar power and wood fuel. In this article in the Scottish current affairs magazine Holyrood, bearing the title “Why the ‘ban’ on wood-burning stoves ignores the needs of rural Scotland”, he writes,

Since 1 April, it is no longer permissible to install a direct-emission heating system (one which produces more than a negligible level of greenhouse-gas emissions) in a new-build house or conversion. This is a ban on oil, coal, gas and wood-based heating systems.

But in response to a fair degree of upset from across rural Scotland in recent weeks at this apparent ban – however partial – on wood-burning stoves, ministers were at pains to point out that this was not, in fact, a ban. Why?

Because, according to the Scottish Government, they can still be installed in new homes to provide emergency heating. The government claims that this concession “recognises the unique needs of Scotland’s rural communities”. The problem with this sophistry is that the Building (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2023 define emergency heating as an installation to be used only in the event of the failure of the main heating system.

So people can install wood-burning stoves at a cost of anything between £5,000 and £10,000 to be used for a few days per year and, therefore, it’s not a ban.

He then discusses some of the reasons why even very environmentally conscious people who live in the remoter areas of Scotland might want to heat their houses using wood-burning stoves, and continues,

It is, in fact, how I want to heat a house I am in the process of building myself. After a lot of careful consideration, I decided to install a log-gasification boiler as the main heating system. Such boilers are more than 90 per cent efficient, they feed a very large accumulator tank of hot water, and only need to be fired up every two to four days.

The wood will come from thinning from a forest that I manage locally, cut with a solar-powered chainsaw. There is no market for this kind of low-quality timber from small woods. If I cannot use it for heat, it will lie and rot – and produce carbon emissions – on the forest floor. The fuel wood will emit two per cent of the carbon being absorbed annually by the forest from which it is sourced.

The house design is rated B for energy efficiency (falling short of A by only two points) and is rated A for carbon emissions. I have planning consent and I even have a grant and loan offer from the Scottish Government to install the boiler.

Due to technical issues, however, I have yet to submit the final application for a building warrant. This will now as a matter of law be refused and I will incur the expense of revising the planning permission, commissioning new engineering assessments, and preparing a revised building-warrant application. I will also need to reject the grant and loan offer.

If you live in Edinburgh or Glasgow, however, you can still install a wood-burning stove even where you don’t need one and even when it contributes to significant levels of particulate matter pollution. In rural Scotland, you can live in or near a forest, perhaps off grid, but you are not allowed to use what is still a renewable low-carbon fuel when appropriately sourced and combusted.

13 comments to It gets cold in rural Scotland and there are often power cuts. Tough.

  • decnine

    That’s tough. But the wise(?) people of Scotland elected the ‘representatives’ who enacted this law. It’s for the greater good. Hahahahahaha.

  • WindyPants

    The one thing that separates humanity from the animal kingdom, perhaps the defining characteristic of early man, was our ability to light a fire to keep warm. The hearth was what defined the home. It’s primeval, it’s hard-wired into us all.

    Only a socialist would consider banning it. Their hubris is staggering.

  • JohnK

    The sort of people who run the Scottish national socialist party are of the same ilk as the people who organised the Holodomor in Ukraine. It is time to recognise that the establishment of pretendy wee parliaments only encourages them. Devolution is one of Tony Blair’s poison pills which is killing Britain from within.

  • Duncan S

    Whilst the MSPs at Holyrood were, sadly, elected by the electorate north of the Solway/Tweed Line, the larger problem is the civil servants who work for the devolved Scottish Administration and who were not elected by anyone.

    It is these civil servants who created the flawed legislation which has been enacted in recent years: Named Person, Short Term Letting, Minimum Pricing, Smoke/CO/Heat detectors, Sectarian Singing, Hate Crime, Deposit return, Gas/Oil/Wood heating ban, etc, etc. Legislation which is then nodded through by the low-IQ parliamentarians without any real scrutiny (and in the case of changes made through Secondary Legislation, no scrutiny at all).

    For all it’s flaws, at least the House of Lords contains some intelligent people who check Westminster’s homework. No equivalent setup exists north of the Solway.

  • Kirk

    I like that line about how “…the wise(?) people of Scotland elected the ‘representatives’ who enacted this law.”

    Much like a lot of the idiocy committed by our favorite set of idjit politicians world-wide, none of them ever campaigned with the public during elections on these issues. I guarantee you that nobody was told that Politician “X” intended to outlaw wood heat, just the normal run of platitudes.

    So, it’s a flawed assumption on anyone’s part that “the voting public” has either approved of or acquiesced to any of this bullshit. They voted for a politician that stood in front of them and willfully told them sweet-sounding lies.

    And, the politicians have gotten away with this crap for generations, mostly because what they do is, in the end, meaningless. Who cares about the little fiddles they’ve done with their contractor buddies, or whatever? It didn’t affect the lives of the average person all that much, and if nothing else, it was entertaining.

    Now that these assholes have lost sight of the realities, they think they’re really, truly in charge, that “the people” endorse and support them in their excesses. Mostly because of what they’ve gotten away with… So far.

    Now that we’re down to it, and are going to start affecting the daily lives of everyone? Huh… Wonder how long they’re going to get away with the bullshit, before the mob shows up with their flensing knives and torches?

    The current “elite” set of idjit-class morons with educations think they’re on top of the world, and are running things. The reality is rather like the set of idiots that got themselves elected to class offices when I was in high school… They thought those positions meant something, in the grand scheme of things. Turned out that the school administrators had rather more say in things, and that the rest of the student body was laughing at them, and had elected them as a bit of a lark. They got roundly ignored once the joke was all over…

    Current lot of idjit types are going to push too far, and discover that the monstrous mob is rather nearer the surface than they imagine. It ain’t outside the realm of the possible that we might see Dutch levels of civil disobedience, which the historically-minded will remember having included such things as the mob eating their prime minister…

    Not that I’m advocating such. God knows what’s in a politician; Mad Cow Disease seems like a common affliction in that crowd. I’d personally advise against any such culinary adventures, but I do fully acknowledge that they’re at least possible

    Which is why I’d never, ever set myself up as a politician.

  • Paul Marks

    Are the international establishment willing to force people to freeze to death in order to carry on the anti C02 agenda? Clearly THEY ARE.

    And they are clearly willing to undermine farming, in various nations, as well.

    So the question is – what, if anything, can be done to defeat the international establishment – both government and corporate.

    In the end none of this is really about C02 – it is about POWER (power over other people), such regulations (on heat and on food) are to show that they are the Masters and that ordinary people are their Serfs – that is what this is about.

  • Phil B

    It is the same as “Gun Control”. It has nothing to do with guns but everything to do with control.

    Paul Marks is right. It is about power and the little people are merely things to be manipulated and tormented.

  • Deep Lurker

    For all his enlightened left-wing pretensions, Andy Wightman is a kulak. A crunchy granola kulak perhaps, but still a kulak. And in the eyes of the Authorities, kulaks are doubleplus ungood and need to be liquidated as a class.

  • Deep Lurker

    As for “The people of Scotland elected…” it looks to me as if “Yes Minister” was actually a documentary.

  • Ferox

    On top of all the usual objections about creeping authoritarianism (not really creeping anymore in Scotland, though) is the absurdly ironical truth that firewood is a sustainable, carbon neutral source of heat energy. Where do they think the carbon in the wood comes from … dinosaurs?

    I think perhaps the silliness is part of the point; look how much power we have over you, peasants. Bow to us.

  • Stonyground

    That was my take on all this. The Regional Assemblies just created a huge swathe of non jobs, granting a whole bunch of people powers but with nothing actually to do. The Devil makes work for idle hands so there you go. It seems to me that Welsh and Scottish government should have been separated properly with maybe a get together four times a year to sort out the stuff that affects everyone.

  • JohnK


    My take on Tony Blair’s pretendy wee parliaments are that we don’t need them and they only do harm.

    The fact of their existence means that they have to come up with laws, which must be different to “English” laws, which are what we used to see as British laws. Thus the moronic 20 mph speed limits in Wales. Thus the different covid restrictions in Wales and Scotland. In Wales Mr Drakeford made sure no Welshman could buy underpants. That’ll show the virus.

    As well as his pretendy wee parliaments in Wales and Scotland, Blair wanted to divide England into eight regions, at the behest of the European Union. It was an attempt to break Britain up and rob us of any national feeling. That’s why I hate “devolution” and wish that a Conservative government had had the balls to roll it back. But I might as well want a pet unicorn as hope for any vision from a Conservative politician. All we get is a smoking ban and compulsory maths till 18. That’s Rishi Sunak’s Big Plan.

  • Wood is not a fossil fuel 🤦🏻‍♂️

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