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Eamon Ryan in the Dáil yesterday Oireacthas.ie
smoky fuels

'People might be reading too much into it': Eamon Ryan suggests peat briquettes won't be banned

The smoky fuel ban is due to come into being later this year.

ENVIRONMENT MINISTER EAMON Ryan has said that peat briquettes will not be banned under an expected ban on smoky fuels later this year. 

The Green Party leader told the Dáil yesterday that he was considering whether the fuel could exceed limits on pollution into the atmosphere.

Speaking about legislation to restrict the commercial sale of turf in Ireland, Ryan said Ireland had to “look at the science” to ensure that peat briquettes did not cause air pollution to the same extent as other fuels such as turf and coal.

The regulations, which were due to come into force from September, have not yet been finalised and it is believed they will be published in the coming weeks.  

At present the regulations as envisaged would not represent a ban on the burning of turf, with no ban either on the sharing of turf with family members or neighbours.  

“I’ll be perfectly honest, I’ve been looking at the science there to make sure and be absolutely certain that those peat briquettes, because of the way they’re processed, because of the way they burn, are below the ten micrograms of pollution that are put out into the atmosphere,” Ryan told the Dáil.

“We have to be straight about that and make sure it is the case.”

However, amid speculation that this could mean a ban on peat briquettes, Ryan clarified last night that he did not expect this would happen.

Appearing on Virgin Media’s The Tonight Show, he clarified that he was simply talking about the science of burning certain fuels.

Asked whether he’d like to see peat briquettes outlawed he said: “No. I think the point I was making there was that we follow the science.”

“The way we would improve public health – and this is a public health measure, saving 1,300 lives that are lost each year because of pollution from burning smoky fuels – is that we would regulate it at the retail level, and that the regulation would be on the standards of how much pollution [is caused by] different fuel,” he continued.

“So I was just making the point there that we’ve got to make sure it’s done on a scientific basis and that we follow the science, we follow the environmental and the public health advice.”

Asked about whether peat briquettes would be banned, Ryan said: “I think people might be reading too much into that.”

A spokesperson for the minister also told The Tonight Show that he did not envisage that briquettes would be banned.

Under current laws, the sale and burning of smoky coal is already banned in all cities and towns with populations above 10,000.

It is estimated that 1,300 people die in Ireland every year due to air pollution.

The burning of solid fuel to heat homes is the biggest cause of Particulate Matter (PM) in Ireland, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

These are particles suspended in the air that can be breathed in by people and cause health effects including stroke, heart disease, lung cancer and respiratory diseases like asthma. 

The EPA has said that moving to cleaner ways of heating homes would lead to a decrease in PM in the air and “much improved health outcomes” for the population.

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