BIG increases in the price of gas and oil have led to solid fuel making a comeback in the region’s kitchens and living rooms.

Sales in wood and multifuel stoves have gone up by more than 40 per cent in the last year, industry experts say.

Demand is so high stockists are reporting a shortage in some types of stove.

Eddie Britton, heating engineer and owner of Darlington- based Heatparts (UK), says he began noticing a move from oil and gas to solid fuel about six months ago.

He said: “People go out for a drive on a weekend and see all the wood in the hedgerows and think, I’ll have a Sunday ‘sticking’ and that will heat the house for the next week.

“There is a shortage of stoves with boilers in. Delivery time is now after the new year.”

Helen Dix, of Walter Dix & Co, based at Team Valley, Gateshead, which specialises in solid-fuel range cookers and stoves, also reported a recent increase in inquiries about solid fuel products.

Nationally, the Solid Fuel Association says sales of wood-burning and other stoves have risen in the past year.

Solid fuel suppliers are also benefiting from the change in heating habits.

Darlington tree surgeon Brian Hutchinson has received calls from people as far away as Northumberland who are desperate for logs.

He said: “I’ve got more than 50 people waiting for wood.

This time last year I had just two or three.”

Business is also proving brisk for the region’s chimney sweeps.

Martin Tradewell, who operates in the Durham and Yorkshire dales, said: “A lot of people are warning me that their chimney might be blocked by a birds nest.

“They say it’s been years since they used the fire, but they want to open it up this year because other fuels are so expensive.”