Ministers are considering proposals to restrict the sale of wet wood and phase out the sale of coal for domestic burning in a bid to cut pollution.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) says that the burning of wood and coal in the home is the largest single contributor to particulate matter pollution — identified by the World Health Organisation as the most damaging air pollutant.

According to the latest Defra figures, domestic burning contributes 38% of particulate matter pollution, compared to 16% from industrial combustion and only 12% from road transport.

Ministers therefore propose to ensure that, in future, only the cleanest fuels are available for sale.

At the same time, the Government aims to ensure only the cleanest stoves are available for sale by 2022.

Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey said: “Everyone has a role to play in improving the air we breathe, and reducing pollution from burning at home is a key area where we can all take action.

“While we will never be able to eliminate all particulate matter, by switching to cleaner fuels, householders can reduce the amount of harmful pollution to which they unwittingly expose themselves, their families and the environment, while still enjoying the warmth and pleasure of a fire.”

Defra stressed that the aim was not to prevent people from using wood-burning stoves, but rather to “encourage people to switch to cleaner fuels”.

A simple way to identify clean, quality wood fuel is to look for the Defra supported “Ready to Burn” logo on fuels.

The consultation closes on October 12.