Eamon Ryan says Ireland must ‘follow the science’ on peat briquettes

Regulations will have to be introduced in the autumn for smokey coal, Minister tells Dáil

Peat briquettes could be included in a ban on smokey fuels, the Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan has indicated.

The Green Party leader was speaking as a motion about the sale and distribution of turf, put forward by Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice, was being debated in the Dáil on Thursday evening.

“I’ll be perfectly honest, I’ve been looking at the science there to make sure, are we absolutely certain that those peat briquettes, because of the way they’re processed, because of the way they burn, are below the 10 micrograms of pollution that’s put out into the atmosphere,” Mr Ryan said.

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

Mr Ryan said regulations would have to be introduced in the autumn for smokey coal “because we don’t want to go through another winter, particularly if it’s a cold winter, where people are dying unnecessarily”.

The Government was currently in the middle of a consultation process with the European Commission which is examining draft regulations on solid fuels, he said.

“We may have to go back and talk to them again and we will, because we are going to have to amend them,” he said.

He said he was listening to the “voices and views” expressed in the Dáil.

“But we will get that right and we will introduce it in the autumn in a way that allows us get that balance right.”

However, later speaking on Virgin Media’s Tonight Show, Mr Ryan said he wouldn’t like to see peat briquettes outlawed and the point he was making was that “we follow the science”.

Last week, a Sinn Féin motion seeking to scrap plans to restrict the sale of turf, cancel the planned carbon tax increase from May 1st and to temporarily remove excise duty on home heating oil was defeated by the Government.