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Calls For Crosshaven To Be Added To Smoky Coal Ban List

Writes Ciaran Dineen

Councillor Marcia D’Alton (Ind) has called on the Carrigaline Municipal District (MD) to write to the Department for the Environment, Climate Action and Communications requesting that Crosshaven be added to the next revised list of the Smoky Coal Ban.

The call was made at the latest meeting of the MD last month. It was then revealed just a couple of days later that it was the Government’s intention to apply a nationwide ban on the sale of smoky coal, with restrictions on sales of turf and unseasoned wood also among proposed regulations on solid fuels.

Under current regulations the sale, marketing, distribution and burning of bituminous (smoky) coal is not permitted in specific low smoke zones (LSZs) across the country. These apply in cities and all towns with populations in excess of 10,000 people.

The Department of Environment, Climate and Communications indicated that there should be measures to help people to move towards less polluting ways to heat their homes, and pointed to the commitments to a retrofitting programme for home insulation included in the Climate Action Plan.

Local Authorities are primarily responsible for the enforcement of the smoky coal ban within their functional areas and according to the Department, the powers that Local Authorities have are “extensive.”

For example, Local Authority staff may undertake inspections of premises and vehicles being used for the sale and distribution of solid fuel as well as collect samples. They can bring a prosecution under the Air Pollution Act for breaches of the Regulations and a Local Authority may issue a Fixed Payment Notice (or 'on the spot fine') for alleged offences relating to the marketing, sale and distribution of prohibited fuels in Low Smoke Zones (LSZs), with a penalty range of €250 to €1000.

Coming back closer to home, Cllr D’Alton said that including Crosshaven in the next revised list was a “no-brainer”, indicating that the area had similar topography to places that are included in the current low smoke zone. She was supported by Cllr Seámus McGrath (FF), who noted that he had brought the issue up at a meeting of the full council, calling for a national ban on the fuel.

It was agreed that the MD would write to the Minister. This week Cllr D'Alton received a response from the Department. It stated that while there was no intention to incrementally increase the scope of the ban, a national blanket ban is on the cards. It read, "Minister Ryan has taken the first step towards achieving this by launching a public consultation to seek views in relation to the national application of the regulations currently applied to bituminous coal, as well as informing the development of appropriate regulatory controls for other residential solid fuels. This is an opportunity for all parties to consider the issues, input to the process at the earliest stage, and to consider alternatives as appropriate, as we take the actions required to achieve our ambition of cleaner air across all of Ireland."

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