A ban on the installation of wood burning stoves in new-build properties has sparked calls for government policies to be ‘rural proofed’ as organisations slammed poor communication from the Scottish Government.

New regulations mean ‘climate friendly heating systems’ must be used in any home where the building warrant was applied for after April 1. The move which will see current technology such as gas boilers banned in favour of systems such as ground source heat pumps.

The news sparked outrage on social media and the Scottish Government has rowed back on a ‘ban’ being in place, stating that stoves can still be installed in new homes for emergency purposes.

Caroline Millar, sector lead of Scottish Agritourism said the organisations supported moves to tackle climate change but said communication from the Scottish Government could have been better.

She said: “Scottish Agritourism and the members we represent is committed to tackling climate change and contributing to net zero targets both in our farming and tourism enterprises.

“While we recognise the need for sustainable and renewable forms of heat, the implementation of this new legislation and its implications for both home owners and tourism owners could have been communicated much more effectively and the implications discussed with businesses ahead of time.

“Since the announcement there has been clarification that wood burning stoves will be permitted for back up to an electric based energy system, but the interpretation of this will be down to local authorities which concerns us.

“A percentage of the environmental impact of using wood in fuel is the transport element and so we would like more detail on the data for small volume use of fallen trees on farm for personal and small business use.

“This does seem like another policy which will impact rural Scotland much more significantly than urban Scotland and it feels increasingly like the impact of policies on rural businesses and rural life are not thought through or discussed in advance.”

The sentiment was echoed Scottish Land and Estates (SLE) who said a lack of effective communication and understanding of rural communities from government was creating ‘unbridled frustration’ across the country.

Anna Gardiner, SLE policy adviser said: “For many people living in Scotland’s rural and island communities, wood burners are the cheapest, most efficient way to warm their homes because of a ready supply of local timber. The gas grid present in cities such as Edinburgh and Glasgow does not exist in many rural settings.

“We do not believe a ban on installing wood-burning stoves in new rural homes is suitable at present.

“There may be a later time when changes to legislation becomes more acceptable but both electricity transmission and clean heat technology would need to improve significantly before that – and the Scottish Government should properly engage with rural communities who are most affected.”

However, the Scottish Government took a bullish stance.

A spokesperson said: “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.”