Councils launch survey to learn more about solid fuel burning habits

Published Tuesday 11 April 2023

Two Leicestershire authorities are asking residents to support work to understand fuel burning trends as part of a government-funded campaign.

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Harborough District Council is working with North West Leicestershire District Council to learn more about solid fuel burning habits

The joint DEFRA-funded project sees North West Leicestershire District Council and Harborough District Council asking residents in both districts to complete a short survey about solid fuel burning.

In winter 2022, residents in both districts were asked about their solid fuel burning habits over the previous 12 months. With the peak burning season now over, the authorities are once again asking their communities to take part in the research project.

The new survey can be filled in online by anyone, not just those with a wood burning stove or fire in their home. Participants have a chance to be entered into a prize draw to win tickets for local leisure attractions.

Although both districts have generally good air quality, the survey is part of work to understand effective ways to reduce the number of particulates in the air from solid fuel burning.

The survey can be found at and

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

Participant of the first survey, Simon Hobbs, of Harborough district, said: “The air quality survey is an important assessment of local emissions and potential toxins in the atmosphere that can affect us all. It's important that these continue to be completed by people who live and work in Market Harborough.”

Paul Sanders, Head of Community Services at North West Leicestershire District Council, said: “Thank you to the residents who took part in our first survey, the majority of people were following best practice in terms of solid fuel burning, but we also learned more about people’s understanding of potential health dangers. Widening the survey will now help us to see if the results are similar for other communities.”

Elaine Bird, Head of Regulatory Services at Harborough District Council, said: “We are keen to understand what people burn and awareness of the dangers of particulates when burning certain fuels. Our first survey was more focused on areas where there was the likelihood of residents using solid fuel for heating and thanks to the information provided in that questionnaire, we have a better understanding. We are now hoping to learn more from others who are less likely to rely so much on the use of solid fuel for heating.”