Public consultation on nationwide smoky coal ban to be launched

Tougher restrictions needed to reduce emissions, says Eamon Ryan

The Government is to launch a public consultation next week on introducing a nationwide ban on smoky coals and bringing in tougher restrictions for other forms of fuel.

Minister for Transport, Climate Change and the Environment Eamon Ryan is expected to announce the initiative later this month to reduce emissions and air pollution, which has reached dangerous levels at times in some Irish towns.

The consultation is expected to look at other issues which contribute to air pollution including high moisture content in wood used for burning, as well as restricting the sale of peat, including peat briquettes.

However, the scope of the prospective restrictions will stop short at people extracting peat from their own turf plot, which is intended for domestic use alone.


Last autumn, Mr Ryan, the leader of the Green Party, signed regulations that extended the smoky cola ban to a further 13 towns around Ireland.

There is now an effective prohibition on the sale of smoky coal in all Irish towns with a population of 10,000 or more.

Nationwide ban

The programme for government commits to extending the smoky coal ban to new towns “and, over the term of government, move towards a full nationwide ban”. Mr Ryan has argued its importance from a public health point of view, as well as helping to reduce carbon emissions.

The first smoky coal ban was introduced in Dublin in 1999 by then minister of state for the environment Mary Harney. There have been efforts to extend the smoky coal ban nationwide but it has faced legal challenges from coal importers who argue that it is anti-competitive and singles out coal, while excluding turf and wood, which provide similar levels of air pollution.

Mr Ryan’s predecessor as minister, Richard Bruton, explored a nationwide smoky coal ban but did not proceed because of the prospect of a successful legal challenge.

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times