‘COWBOYS’ are selling banned smoky coal in the city according to Fianna Fail Councillor Joe Malone.
A presentation was made to members of Kilkenny Borough Council at a meeting held last Tuesday evening by Environment engineer with Kilkenny County Council Carol McCarthy.
17 inspections have been carried out in the city since the start of the year and two cautions have been issued compared with only seven inspections in 2010. The meeting heard that the reason for the increase in the number of inpections was due to a significant increases in the number of complaints made in recent months and because of the recession.
Ms Mc Carthy told the members that from 2003 the sale of smoky coal was banned in Kilkenny city. “The regulations prohibit the marketing and sale of such fuel but it is not an offence to burn it so one can buy it outside the city and still burn it in a restricted area.” The restricted area encompasses all areas within the borough boundary and within the Ring Road as well as a number of townslands and the Environmental Protection Aency monitors the air quiality in restricted areas.
Cllr Malone asked the council officials if anyone was before the courts in relation to selling the banned fuel and was informed that no one had been prosecuted to date.
“I am not speaking about the fuel merchants in the city but I am speaking about comings coming in from around Ballyragget and Waterford and down from Northern Ireland,” said Cllr Malone. Cllr Betty Manning (Fine Gael) said that a number of coal merchants in the city had told her that there were aware of people selling this kind of coal. “It has to be monitored very regularly especially during the winter so people who are complying with the regulations don’t feel hard done by,” she said.
Fianna Fail councillor Andrew McGuinness added that he had heard of people going around estates in the city in broad daylight offering the banned fuel for sale. “They are selling it under our noses. There should be more cautions and more prosecutions,” he added.
Cllr Malcolm Noonan (Green Party) said that the issue would only become more problematic in the future as people’s incomes dropped and they sourced cheaper fuel. “We are importing masses of fossil fuels when we should have indigeous wood fuel which would provide thousands of jobs and reduce fuel energy. I am asking the members of our new government to address this and to take it seriously,” he said.