Thursday, 30 May 2019
Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment
121. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if his attention has been drawn to the recent vote by Wexford County Council to make County Wexford a smoke free zone based on significant air quality issues in New Ross and Enniscorthy; his views on the decision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23055/19]
The ban on the marketing, sale and distribution of bituminous coal, or ‘the smoky coal ban’ as it is commonly known, has proven very successful since first introduced in Dublin in 1990 and subsequently extended so that it now applies in 26 urban areas nationwide. On each of the occasions that the ban has been extended, it has been done through statutory instrument made by my predecessors under powers conferred by the Air Pollution Act, 1987.
I am disappointed that a number of coal firms have indicated they would legally challenge the decision of two former Ministers to extend the ban nationwide. As I have previously indicated, the current ban on bituminous coal will not be extended nationwide for the 2019/20 heating season. I also do not propose to extend the smoky coal ban to other individual towns in the meantime.
I am working with the Attorney General to finalise a legally robust plan which will improve air quality by reducing particulate matter in the air.
I am aware that Wexford County Council recently passed a motion to introduce a countywide ban the sale and use of smoky fuels. It is a matter for the Council to decide how they wish to proceed in this matter.