Wider area for ban on smoky coal

The area around Kilkenny city in which the use of “smoky coal” is prohibited has been expanded as part of new national regulations.

The area around Kilkenny city in which the use of “smoky coal” is prohibited has been expanded as part of new national regulations.

The same applies to the other 19 cities and towns already covered by the ban, and seven additional towns will be included in the ban starting in May.

A prohibition on the burning of bituminous or smoky coal is also being introduced to complement the existing ban on the marketing, sale and distribution.

The maximum fine amounts for breaches of the regulations have been increased to €5,000 on summary conviction. On-the-spot fines have also been introduced for certain offences relating to the supply and sale of solid fuel. Anyone found to be marketing, selling or distributing bituminous coal in breach of the regulations is now liable for a fixed payment notice of €1,000.

“Research has indicated that the smoky coal ban introduced in Dublin in 1990 resulted in up to 350 fewer deaths and through increased efficiency reduced consumer fuel costs by €184 million per year,” Environment Minister Phil Hogan said in introducing the regulations.

“It has clearly been effective in reducing air pollution with proven benefits for human health and our environment and has led to improved quality of life in cities and towns where the ban applies. I believe that it’s now time to take steps to ensure that those proven benefits are preserved and safeguarded, and are extended more widely by updating the main provisions of the ban to reflect the more recent expansion of many of our urban areas and to ensure its continued effectiveness in mitigating harmful emissions caused by the burning of smoky coal.”

Protecting public health is one of the main goals of putting the ban in place, as are the economic benefits. “Our environment and ‘green’ image is perhaps our greatest asset and we must carefully manage all activities that impact on this vital asset,” the minister said. “Enhancing our environment will also have positive economic benefits for the tourism, recreation, agricultural and food-producing sectors.”

He also pointed out that 2013 has been designated as the “Year of Air” and will see the revision of the EU’s Thematic Strategy on Air Pollution for the next decade and beyond.

“In this context, I see the shift to cleaner fuels for residential heating as a necessary step of our journey to reduce emissions from residential heating into the future, and our transition to a green economy and a sustainable society which will help to consolidate Ireland’s reputation as a clean and green place to live, visit and do business,” Minister Hogan said.