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Dublin: -1°C Thursday 6 May 2021

Smoky coal ban extended, will 'clear air and bring fewer deaths'

The ban is being extended to all of Dublin County, as well as seven provincial towns.

Image: xlibber via Flickr/Creative Commons

‘SMOKY COAL BAN’ regulations are to be extended to new parts of the country, Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan TD has announced.

There will be some expansions of the ban areas within the 20 cities and towns already covered, and seven new towns will be included from May 2013 onwards.

The new regulations will be the most extensive revision and update to the ban since its introduction in 1990.

  • The ban is being extended to all of Dublin County, including suburbs and satellite towns;
  • Six new provincial towns are to be included (with effect from May 2013) because they have populations over 15,000 people – Greystones, Letterkenny, Mullingar, Navan, Newbridge and Portlaoise;
  • Wicklow Town is also to be included following requests from Wicklow County Council and local 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 switch-over to smokeless fuels will take place next May.

Minister Hogan TD, said:

Research has indicated that the smoky coal ban introduced in Dublin in 1990 resulted in up to 350 fewer deaths and reduced consumer fuel costs of €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.

The Minister added 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.

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.

It was later extended to other areas.

The enforcement of a nationwide ban would be difficult, said Minister Hogan, adding that he has raised the issue with the Northern Ireland Minister for the Environment, Alex Atwood MLA, and their Departments are working together on it.

The new regulations will be published and come into force in the coming weeks.

Read: Environment Minister announces review of ban on smokey coal>

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