Wednesday, 18 May 2011
Dáil Éireann Debate
134. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the position regarding the use of smokeless fuels in areas (details supplied) in County Wicklow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11917/11]
Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): The Air Pollution Act, 1987 (Marketing, Sale & Distribution of Fuels) Regulations, 1998 to 2004, prohibit the marketing, sale and distribution of bituminous, or smoky, coal within certain designated restricted areas, in order to protect air quality in urban areas. The Regulations are enforced by the local authorities. Fuel suppliers who breach the ban are liable for prosecution.
Air quality monitoring carried out by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shows that the ban has reduced pollutant emissions very significantly in areas where it has been applied. Reductions of black smoke emissions range from a minimum of 45% in the smaller cities and towns to a high of 70% in Dublin. This has resulted in greatly improved ambient air quality in these areas with consequent health benefits.
The EPA also publishes a comprehensive annual report on air quality, the most recent being the report “Air Quality in Ireland 2009 — Key Indicators of Ambient Air Quality (November 2010)”. In this report the EPA found that levels of particulate matter in smaller towns outside the existing ban areas can be similar or worse than those in cities. The EPA has recommended an extension of the ban to additional areas in order to deliver further improvements to air quality. This recommendation will be considered as part of a consultation on improvements to the smoky coal ban which I intend to undertake in the coming months.
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