Campaign to help reduce air particles begins

Published Thursday 13 October 2022

A project to monitor tiny particles that are released into the air through the burning of solid fuel – like wood, coal or other materials – has begun in Harborough district.

As part of a joint DEFRA-funded campaign between Harborough District Council and North West Leicestershire District, a special device to monitor levels of air-borne particles has been installed in North Kilworth in Harborough district. A similar monitor has also been installed in Oakthorpe and Donisthorpe in North West Leicestershire.

Particulate matter air quality monitor

Although both districts have generally good air quality, the villages have been chosen for the study because many homes have no mains gas, so more people may burn solid fuel as their main heat source, increasing the number of particulates in the air.

Particulates can be damaging to people who breathe them in, particularly those with respiratory illnesses, like Asthma, younger people and older people.

The project aims to advise local people how they can help to reduce particulates in the air through three simple steps:

  • Change the appliance - moving to a modern wood burner from an open fire cuts down particulates by about 90%
  • Use a ‘cleaner’ fuel - burning seasoned, rather than unseasoned wood reduces particulates
  • Maintain your system - sweep the chimney once a year

A survey has been launched to discover people’s habits and knowledge around burning solid fuel. Participants have a chance to be entered into a prize draw to win shopping vouchers and tickets for local leisure attractions.

The survey can be found at

Councils have a duty to monitor air quality and put plans in place to improve it where it is found to be lower than required levels.

Cllr Jonathan Bateman, Harborough District Council’s Cabinet lead for air quality, said: “We want people to think about what they put in their wood burner, open fire, chimenea, or barbecue, and there are simple steps to help reduce potentially harmful particles being released into the air. This campaign is about raising awareness, but also increasing our knowledge, which is why the new monitor has been installed. I would like to thank North Kilworth Parish Council and North Kilworth Village Hall Committee for their support with this campaign.”

Councillor Andrew Woodman, Portfolio Holder for Community Services at North West Leicestershire District Council, said: “National government is focussing on the very small particles that are released into the air when we burn solid fuel, which are damaging to our health if we breathe them in. With the rising popularity of wood burners, and the increased cost of living, we believe more and more people may be burning solid fuel, rather than relying on electricity, or gas heating where it is available. There can be a temptation to throw anything on your burner, open fire or chimenea, but that comes with a cost to the air quality in our communities. We’d like people to think about the things they can do to make burning solid fuel safer for everyone.”

This project is part of Harborough District Council and North West Leicestershire District Council’s ongoing air quality monitoring strategy, which, along with other local authorities across the UK has focussed on traffic related pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide.

This shift to particulates is part of a national focus through updated legislation, which is likely to require further action by local authorities. 

Pictured: (l-r) Cllr Stephen Bettles of North Kilworth Parish Council, Cllr Amanda Nunn ward councillor, Cllr Jonathan Bateman, Annie Millar clerk of North Kilworth Village Hall Committee, and Katie Crone treasurer of North Kilworth Village Hall Committee