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19/09/2021

You won't be able to burn smoky coal in Longford from September 2020

You won't be able to burn smoky coal in Longford from September 2020

Smoky coal ban has been extended to Longford town from September 2020

The people of Longford town won't be able to burn smoky coal from September 2020. 

Based on the evidence of poor air quality with seriously damaging effects on health, Longford is one of thirteen towns nationwide where a smoky coal ban has been extended to. 

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Recent air quality monitoring in three towns (Cobh, Enniscorthy and Longford) showed that although air quality  met EU requirements, the results exceeded the stricter WHO air quality standard limits. On this basis, it was decided that all built-up areas in the country should benefit from a ban.

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton TD yesterday (Tuesday, December 17) announced that the smoky coal ban will be extended to all towns with populations over 10,000 people. 

Also read: Longford councillors slam ‘disgraceful altercations’ in Longford town

The Minister has also said that the government would not be proceeding with a nationwide ban on smoky coal, on the basis that such a ban carries a serious risk of illegality, unless peat, turf and wet wood were also included.  

Nationwide Smoky Coal Ban

Minister Bruton confirmed that a nationwide ban on smoky coal carries a serious risk of illegality, unless peat, wet wood and turf were also addressed.

He said: “I am not proceeding with a nationwide ban at this time as such a ban carries a serious risk of illegality unless turf, peat and wet wood are also addressed. We will proceed in a gradual and proportionate way and extend the current smoky coal ban to 13 new towns where there are particular air quality issues and to address immediate health concerns in these towns. This will come into effect from next September and will lead to immediate improvements in air quality.

Also read: Immediate increase in Gardaí needed for Longford as feuding gang violence escalates

“To proceed with a nationwide ban regardless of circumstance would expose people in rural areas, who have traditional sources of logs and turf which they rely upon, to the risk of a sudden ban. I am not willing to do this. To pretend that a nationwide ban does not carry this probable outcome is to be dishonest.

“I am preparing the first ever Clean Air Strategy, and will come back to government in the New Year with further proposals to improve air quality.”

Enforcement of the Existing Ban

The Minister also announced that work is underway to strengthen enforcement of the current smoky coal ban. Options which are being considered include:

The development of a regional approach to air quality and noise enforcement, in line with other areas of environmental enforcement such as waste, which has proven to be very successful;
A multi-agency approach to enforcement would have greater impact on issues including the sale of high-sulphur content fuel imported from the UK and the Department is currently actively engaging with Local Authorities and the Revenue Commissioners in that context at present.

Improving Air Quality Monitoring

The government will invest €5m to improve our network of air monitoring stations in the next five years. This is vital to establishing hard, scientific evidence of the standard of air in different parts of the country. This €5m investment will:

Develop a greatly expanded national monitoring network
Enhance the provision of real-time, localised air quality information to local authorities and to the public
Assist Local Authorities in terms of enforcement within their areas, as well as providing a more accurate nationwide air quality picture for policy makers.

Air quality monitoring has advanced significantly in recent times. Air quality in Ireland is monitored by the EPA by way of a network of 31 monitoring stations, which will soon double as government double the funding being provided. Furthermore, better modelling and research mean we have a much better understanding of particulate matter than when the ban was first introduced in 1990.

Also read: Former restaurant and B&B in Longford sold for €142,000 in BidX1 auction

 

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