Will air rules put a damper on our oven?
Will pollution rules ruin our pizza?
My husband wants to make the most of the British summer this year by installing a wood-burning pizza oven in our garden in north London. However, I’m concerned about changes to the rules over wood-burning stoves (we have one of them as well) — what will the new restrictions mean for us? Should I tell hubby to forget about the “alfresco forno”?
Don’t be too hasty. The government isn’t planning on entirely banning wood-burning stoves, pizza ovens or fire bowls, just consulting on whether to introduce some restrictions. One of the ideas suggested, for example, is to have “no-burn days”, where a local council can stop you firing up the pizza oven when air pollution hits certain limits.
Sounds like it might put a damper on the next bank holiday cook-off, but OK. Anything else?
There are also proposals to restrict what type of fuel can be burnt. The government wants us to use properly seasoned wood as it burns cleaner with lower smoke emissions than recently cut, or green, wood.
How is this going to be policed? Will we have woodsmoke snoopers patrolling the neighbourhood?
The details have not yet been announced, but that might not be too far off the truth. The proposals suggest that local authorities will police the new regulations, and that might include local patrols. As we know, local authority resources are quite stretched so it will be interesting to see how this might work in practice.
When we got the wood-burning stove last year, I seem to recall we were told we already live in a smoke-free zone, so what is going to be different?
Smoke-free zones have been with us since the 1950s, introduced to cut smog. The idea is to restrict what households can burn to minimise air pollution, which typically means that only certain types of smokeless fuels can be used. Some approved wood-burning stoves are exempt from these rules but their increased popularity in urban areas is contributing to poor air quality which is why the Government is consulting on the issue.
So we are free to add the pizza oven to the outdoor kitchen?
Absolutely, but one final word of caution. If your pizza oven is part of a covered or part-covered outdoor kitchen, with a chimney to take smoke away, only authorised smoke-free fuels can be used. Your local authority will be able to tell you what those are.
David Rawlence is an Associate in the Property team at law firm Boodle Hatfield
Green and pheasant land
My husband and I live in the Chilterns. We bought some woodland and fields off the local estate some years ago, but it kept rights to use the land for its shoot. This was never a big deal for us and the estate always gave us fair warning of the few days in the year they would take access. But recently they’ve ramped up their activities, shooting every week of the season. They’ve even erected pens on our land to rear pheasants — and they say they’re entitled to do this! Is this right?
First, look at the wording of the “reservation” of the sporting rights in the transfer of the land to you. This sets out the scope of the rights the estate can exercise. The wording is often formulaic; it may include the right to “preserve and rear” pheasants. That means protecting pheasants against predators and carrying out basic husbandry, but a recent case decided it does not include the right to bring young pheasants (or poults) from elsewhere and to rear them on the land. It sounds as if this is what the estate is doing to stock up ahead of the shooting season, so do check if the wording clearly allows them to do so.
Another thing we are not clear on is who has the right to cull the deer in the woods. I don’t recall any mention of deer in the sale documents. This is a problem for us because when we coppice the hornbeams the deer eat the new shoots. They’re a pest and need to be controlled. The estate says it’s not its problem.
Again, look at the precise wording of the sporting reservation to see if it includes “deer”. If it does not, and there is just a list of birds, then it may well be that you have kept the right to control deer on your land. This isn’t always clear-cut, but if the estate isn’t interested, it may not dispute your right to cull them either
What about rabbits? My husband often finds them eating the lettuces in our garden. Can we do anything about this?
Yes. As owner and occupier of the woods you have a right under the Ground Game Acts to kill rabbits and hares on your land, irrespective of whether the estate also has that right.
James Maxwell is a Partner at Farrer & Co
The legal issues discussed in this column refer to England and Wales. Scenarios have been compiled for illustrative purposes only