Renfrewshire Council


Biomass is the general term for natural or 'organic' fuel sources which can be either from wood (eg wood chips) or non-wood (eg animal waste) materials.

The energy provided by combustion of these fuel sources may be converted to heat, electricity or mechanical power.

Large biomass plant (>20MW heat input) or plant using waste biomass as a fuel are regulated under the Waste Incineration Directive or Pollution Prevention and Control Regulations by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and a permit will be required.

Medium sized boilers (less than 20 MW heat input) burning non-waste fuel are regulated under the Clean Air Act 1993 by the local authority. As detailed in the Smoke Control Areas section, boilers installed in a smoke control area must be exempted appliances under the Clean Air Act 1993. The Act also requires that proposals to install new non-domestic biomass boilers (>16.12kW output) must be notified to Renfrewshire Council before installation. Where possible it is recommended that notifications should be made at the design stage. In addition, for boilers capable of burning more than 45.4 kg an hour of fuel, the height of the chimney serving the boiler must be approved by Renfrewshire Council. It is recommended that chimney height approval is obtained at an early stage before any planning permission is sought.

Domestic boilers are described by the Act as those designed solely for domestic purposes and used for heating a boiler with a maximum heating capacity of less than 16.12kW. These small-scale biomass systems usually take the form of boilers or stoves which use fuels including wood chips, wood pellets and logs.

The status of biomass as a renewable low carbon fuel and an increased interest in the installation of domestic wood burning stoves means there are a growing number of biomass boilers in use across Renfrewshire.

Dependant on whether planning permission is required and the size and type of installation (generally larger commercial units), you may be asked to complete a Biomass Boiler Information Request Form and/or provide an air quality assessment to confirm that emissions will not impact on local air quality. For further information please refer to the Community Resources publication - Biomass Installations in Renfrewshire Council: An Advice Note for Developers.

When installing a biomass unit, it is important to consider the height of the flue to ensure adequate dispersal of exhaust gases and smoke. This is particularly important where you have neighbouring properties and their windows are higher than where the flue will exit your property. As a general rule, the top of the flue should be a minimum of 1 metre above the eaves level. Your installer should be able to provide further advice on this.

For information on planning permission or building warrant approval for developments incorporating biomass please contact us.