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01-30-2008, 06:26 PM,

Wednesday January 30,2008

A ban on outdoor heaters as part of the battle against climate change could cost the UK pub and catering trade £250 million a year in lost trade, it has been claimed.

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Euro-MPs are expected to back a ban on patio heaters

Euro-MPs are expected to back a resolution calling on the European Commission to set a timetable for abolishing goods with low energy-efficiency ratings.

The motion being debated in Brussels specifically names outdoor patio heaters - but a climate change expert says their impact on global warming is "very minimal".

Plasma televisions produce more carbon dioxide (CO2) than patio heaters when normal use patterns are compared, insisted Dr Eric Johnson, National Expert Reviewer for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and managing director of Atlantic Consulting.

"The overall impact of outdoor heaters on global warming and greenhouse gas emissions is very minimal, and once you look at the domestic models used in homes, the impact is almost non-existent," he said.

"Once comparisons start with well-known offenders such as aeroplanes, outdoor heaters dwarf in comparison. In actual fact, plasma TVs produce far more CO2 than patio heaters when you compare normal usage patterns for each appliance."

The estimated financial impact on the pub and catering industry of a patio heater ban is set out in The Publican Market Report 2007. It said the pub trade invested up to £86.5 million on outdoor heaters in the last year to attract customers after the smoking ban obliged them to drink out of doors if they wanted to carry on smoking. If the ban being urged by some MEPs was approved, that money would have been wasted, it warned.

The UK Independence Party condemned the bid to ban patio heaters as "a concerted attempt to ostracise and penalise smokers".

Ukip leader and MEP Nigel Farage said: "Not content with devastating the pub trade with the illiberal and ill-informed smoking ban these autocratic busybodies now want to make smokers stand in the cold and the rain." He said a ban on patio heaters would erode the industry's investment in "making life bearable" for customers.

Robert Feal Martinez, landlord of the Carpenters Arms near Swindon, Wilts said: "As a publican I find it quite ironic that a European Commission agenda has created a situation in the UK where smokers have been forced out into the cold and now the European Parliament wants them to be subjected to inhumane conditions. "Is it any wonder that the people of Britain want a vote on the EU reform treaty?".

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