Ban on smoky coal extended
The smoky coal ban is to be extended to seven new towns from 2013, Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan announced today.
A ban on the burning of the fuel is also being introduced, in addition the existing ban on marketing, sale and distribution of smoky coal.
The ban extended to Greystones, Letterkenny, Mullingar, Navan, Newbridge, Portlaoise and Wicklow town from May next year.
Six of the towns are included because their populations are over 15,000, while Wicklow has been included at the request of the county council.
The boundaries of some existing areas are also being extended to take account of population growth. In Dublin the coal ban will cover the whole county including towns such as Balbriggan.
The ban on the marketing, sale and distribution of smoky coal was introduced in Dublin in 1990 to deal with winter smog and applies to 20 cities and towns. A study estimated that the Dublin restriction resulted in some 350 fewer deaths each 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,” Mr Hogan said.
Maximum fines for marketing and sale of smoky coal have been increased to €5000 on summary conviction. For those caught burning smoky coal it will be up to the local authority to decide whether or not to bring them to court.
The revision follows a public consultation. Many submissions called for a nationwide ban on smoky coal. However Mr Hogan said nationwide enforcement would be difficult because smoky coal was freely available in Northern Ireland.
The new regulations will be published in the coming weeks and will include a map of the revised areas.