Minister extends smoky coal ban – two Mayo towns affected

THE Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton, has announced that the smoky coal ban will be extended to all towns with populations over 10,000 people.

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.

Minister Bruton said said he was extending the smoky coal ban to 13 additional towns based on the evidence of poor air quality with seriously damaging effects on health.

Two Mayo towns are included in the ban – Castlebar and Ballina.

Said Minister Bruton: “Many of the actions we are taking in the Climate Action Plan, such as our plan for a new National Programme for Housing upgrades, will reduce the reliance people have on solid fuels. We will ensure that 500,000 homes are upgraded in the coming decade, with 600,000 renewable heating systems/heat pumps installed.

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.

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.”