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'Most polluting' solid fuels to be banned in Ireland within a year

Each year some 1,300 people die in Ireland due to air pollution from solid fuel burning.

File photo of coal fire
File photo of coal fire
Image: Shutterstock/Belinda Gallacher

NEW STANDARDS FOR domestic solid fuels will be introduced in Ireland within a year.

Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan has today announced the new standards for all domestic solid fuels which will be introduced over the next 12 months.

From that point on, the most polluting of fuels will no longer be available on the Irish market.

Each year some 1,300 people die in Ireland due to air pollution from solid fuel burning.

Earlier this year, the government launched a public consultation on the development of new solid fuels regulations for Ireland.

Speaking today, Ryan said: “We received more than 3,500 responses across all strands of the consultation, with a wide variety of suggested regulatory approaches for solid fuels.

“Having considered the submissions made by the public, health experts, advocacy groups, academia and industry, a framework for legislation has been developed and drafting of the regulations is underway.”

From 2022 the following new standards for solid fuels will apply in Ireland:

  • Coal, coal-based products, any manufactured solid fuel or peat briquettes will be required to have a smoke emission rate of less than 10g/hour, reducing to 5g/hr by 2025
  • It is not proposed to make any changes to the smoke emission rate for biomass products (that contain coal), as this is already set at 5g/hr
  • The sulphur content permitted for all fuels will be reduced from 2% to 1% over time
  • Wood sold in single units under 2m³ will be required to have a moisture content of 25% or less (moving to 20% within 4 years) and wet wood sold over these volumes will be required to come with instructions for the purchaser on how to dry this wood
  • In order to accommodate those with rights to harvest sod peat, no ban on its burning will be introduced; however, a regulatory regime to reduce its harm in more urbanised areas is under examination

These regulations will be finalised in the coming months and will be in place for the 2022 heating season. Ryan said they are being announced now to allow those servicing the domestic solid fuel market to plan accordingly and to continue to invest in less polluting alternatives.

ABC campaign 

In advance of the new regulations coming into effect, the minister is also launching a public awareness campaign focusing on the steps people can take to reduce air pollution from domestic fires during the winter ahead.

The campaign will be run across national and local radio stations, in the national and regional press, and on social media from late September.

The campaign will centre around three core messages or the ‘ABC’ for Cleaner Air, which can help bring about significant improvements in air quality:

  • A – Ask yourself: “Do I need to light a fire?” Use other cleaner heating sources instead if possible
  • B – Burn cleaner, more efficient, low-smoke fuels and make sure you use the right fuel for your appliance
  • C – Clean and maintain your chimneys and heating appliances at least once a year

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“By taking these simple steps people can help to safeguard the health of those who are at particular risk of problems caused by air pollution, such as people with asthma, children and the elderly,” Ryan added.

The minister is also due to soon open a public consultation on the forthcoming Clean Air Strategy.

About the author:

Órla Ryan

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