Thursday, 18 February 2021
Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment
44. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the extent to which air quality continues to be monitored at various locations throughout the country; the trends identified in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9335/21]
46. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the types of air pollutant most readily detected throughout the country; the extent to which the issue is being dealt with by way of reduction measures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9338/21]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 44 and 46 together.
While air quality in Ireland is generally good, the European Environment Agency’s Air Quality in Europe 2020 report indicates that in 2018 there were 1,410 premature deaths in Ireland as a result of air pollution, and a total of 17,560 years of life lost.
The Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for monitoring ambient air quality in Ireland via the national Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Programme. Under this programme the national monitoring network has undergone a significant upgrade in recent years, and has been expanded from 30 stations in 2017 to 90 today.
All monitoring stations collect air quality data for a range of pollutants in order to provide information to the public, and for assessment against European legal limit values and World Health Organisation guideline values. Real-time data from these monitoring stations is available online at all times at www.airquality.ie, and the most recent report on Ireland’s air quality can be found at.
As more comprehensive, real-time, localised air quality information becomes available, it is apparent that there are key pollutants which still need to be considered more comprehensively. While nitrogen dioxide from transport emissions, and ammonia generated by certain agricultural practices are pollutants of concern, these are being addressed through a range of policies as set out in the National Air Pollution Control Programme. Particulate matter, from the burning of solid fuel, is estimated to cause 1,300 premature deaths per year in Ireland, and Government is committed to addressing this public health and environmental challenge thorough a nationwide ban on smoky coal and enhanced regulation of other solid fuels.
I am taking the first step in this process by launching a public consultation which will seek views in relation to the national application of the regulations currently applied to bituminous coal, as well as informing the development of appropriate regulatory controls for other residential solid fuels. This will be an opportunity for all parties - consumers, retailers, producers and industry - to consider the issues, input to the process at the earliest stage, and to consider alternatives as appropriate, as we take the actions required to achieve our ambition of cleaner air across all of Ireland.