Ban on smoky coal to be extended to seven provincial towns


THE BAN on smoky coal is to be extended to seven provincial towns next year, according to Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan.

The ban will be extended to Greystones, Letterkenny, Mullingar, Navan, Newbridge, Portlaoise and Wicklow town from next May. 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.

Up to now there has been a ban on the marketing, sale and distribution of smoky coal in Dublin and 20 other cities and towns. This is now being extended to the seven provincial towns.

In addition, the burning of smoky coal is also being made an offence in all these areas from next year under regulations being introduced by Mr Hogan.

The burn ban is being introduced because the use of smoky coal purchased outside the sale and marketing ban area can be considerable.

The move goes further towards addressing the Environmental Protection Agency’s recommendation that the ban be extended to all urban areas. The boundaries of some existing areas are also being extended due to population growth.

In Dublin, the bituminous or smoky coal ban will cover the whole county, including towns such as Balbriggan.

Maximum fines for the marketing and sale of smoky coal have been increased to €5,000 on summary conviction. On-the-spot fines of €1,000 have been introduced for people found selling or marketing smoky coal.

Where people are caught burning smoky coal, it will be up to the local authority to decide whether to bring them to court.

The ban on the marketing, sale and distribution of smoky coal was introduced in Dublin in 1990 to deal with winter smog. The Dublin restriction resulted in some 350 fewer deaths each year, according to research by consultant respiratory physician Prof Luke Clancy published in the Lancet in 2002.

The revision follows a public consultation held by the department this year. Many submissions called for a nationwide ban on smoky coal. However, Mr Hogan said nationwide enforcement would be difficult because smoky coal was available in the North.