'Smoky' coal ban now extended to seven more towns
THE ban on 'smoky' coal is to be extended to seven more towns around the country in a bid to improve air quality and save lives.
Research has shown that since the ban on smoky fuel was first introduced in Dublin city in 1990 there have been 350 fewer deaths each year.
The ban will now be extended to include all of Dublin county, including suburbs and satellite towns, and will be in place in time for next winter.
From May next year, six more provincial towns are also being included in the ban because they have populations of more than 15,000.
They are Greystones, Letterkenny, Mullingar, Navan, Newbridge and Portlaoise. The ban will also be extended to include Wicklow town after requests from the county council.
The seven towns are being given a lead-in period to allow local authorities and fuel retailers time to familiarise themselves with the new regulations.
However, the regulations relating to Dublin will come into force in the coming weeks.
The ban was first introduced over two decades ago in response to severe episodes of winter smog in the capital which were largely due to the widespread use of smoky coal.
The ban was credited with encouraging homeowners to switch to more efficient and less polluting fuels such as oil and gas, and it has been calculated that consumers have saved €184m a year in reduced fuel costs as a result.
Announcing the extension of the ban yesterday, Mr Hogan said: "While I recognise the attachment that some people have to 'smoky' coal, I think when they try and get used to smokeless coal products and other alternatives they will find they are every bit as good as smoky coal."
"Enforcement of a nationwide ban would be difficult, particularly where smoky coal is freely available in Northern Ireland. However, there is scope for improved co-operation with authorities in Northern Ireland in relation to air quality policies generally."