- 04 October 2012
Phil Hogan T.D., Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, recently announced that he has now given effect to new consolidating ‘smoky coal ban’ regulations. The Regulations were prepared following a public consultation process earlier this year. The Regulations provide for expansions of the ban areas within most of the 20 cities and towns already covered by the smoky coal ban, and 7 new towns being included under the ban from May 2013 onwards. The new Regulations include the following provisions:
- Most existing ban area boundaries are being extended to take recent urban development into account. The revisions are based on Census 2011 data;
- The ban is being extended to all of Dublin County, including outer suburbs and satellite towns;
- Seven new towns are to be included (with effect from May 2013) – Greystones, Letterkenny, Mullingar, Navan, Newbridge and Portlaoise – which exceed the designated minimum population threshold of 15,000 following Census 2011, and Wicklow Town following representations from the public, Wicklow County Council and elected representatives;
- 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 new Regulations along with maps of the revised smoky coal ban areas and new towns being included in the ban from May 2013 are available on the Department’s website:–
The lead-in period for the 7 new towns will allow local authorities and fuel retailers time to familiarise themselves with the new regulatory requirements in preparation for the switch-over to smokeless fuels next May.
Minister Phil Hogan T.D., said “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. 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.”
“One of my key objectives is to enhance and protect public health and the environment which will, in turn, benefit our citizens in terms of a better quality of life. There are practical economic benefits to this as well. Our environment and ‘green’ image is perhaps our greatest asset and we must carefully manage all activities that impact on this vital asset. Enhancing our environment will also have positive economic benefits for the tourism, recreation, agricultural and food-producing sectors.”
The Minister added: “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”.
In relation to alternative, non-smoky fuels, Minister Hogan highlighted: “As well as oil and gas, there is a range of innovative smokeless solid fuel products, including smokeless coal products, available which are cleaner as well as more carbon and heat-efficient and so can deliver climate benefits as well as improved air quality and human health benefits. While I recognise the attachment that some people have to ‘smoky’ coal as a preferred solid fuel because it’s what they are used to, I think when they try and get used to smokeless coal products and other alternatives, they will find they are every bit as good as smoky coal; in fact, they are cleaner and better for themselves, for their neighbours and for the environment more generally”.
The ban on the marketing, sale and distribution of bituminous fuel (or ‘smoky coal ban’) was first introduced in Dublin back in 1990 in response to severe episodes of winter smog in the capital that resulted primarily from the widespread use of smoky coal for residential heating. With the ban proving very effective in reducing smoke and sulphur dioxide levels, it was subsequently extended to other areas in a number of phases. Air quality monitoring by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has shown levels of particulate matter (PM10) are lower in these areas than in towns where the ban does not apply. The measures being introduced under the new Regulations are the most extensive revision and update to the smoky coal ban since its introduction in 1990.