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Cork East Fine Gael TD and Minister of State at the Department of Justice, David Stanton, has welcomed confirmation that smoky coal will be banned in Cobh, Midleton and Mallow from September 2020.  The move comes as part of the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment’s extension of the ban to all towns with populations over 10,000 people.  

“I am very pleased that these three large towns in my constituency of Cork East, Cobh, Midleton and Mallow, have been included in the nationwide ban on smoky coal from next September. The lead in to the ban will give local distributors adequate time to prepare alternative arrangements and I have no doubt that once implemented the ban will address immediate health concerns in these towns by leading to vast improvements in air quality”, said Minister Stanton.

“Air quality monitoring has shown that while certain towns like Cobh do meet EU requirements, the levels exceed the stricter World Health Organisation (WHO) air quality standards.  I understand that the European Commission are to bring forward proposals to revise air quality standards to align them more closely with WHO recommendations and, as a result, the Department has decided the smoky coal ban should be extended to all heavily populated areas. However, the Government is not proceeding with a nationwide ban unless peat, turf and wet wood are also included.

“Work to strengthen the enforcement of the current smoky coal ban is continuing through the development of a regional and multi-agency approach. Cork County Council will be primarily responsible for the enforcement of the ban in Cobh, Midleton and Mallow through inspections of premises and vehicles used for the sale and distribution of solid fuel. The Council may issue fines of up to €1,000 for alleged offences relating to the marketing, sale and distribution of prohibited fuels or bring prosecutions under the Air Pollution Act 1987 for breaches of the regulations. This is a very welcome step in improving air quality in our local towns and builds on the proposals of the Government’s Climate Action Plan”.

“The Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment is also preparing the first ever Clean Air Strategy with proposals due in the New Year. €5 million will be invested over the next five years to improve the network of 31 air monitoring stations nationwide with a view to establishing hard, scientific evidence of air quality”, concluded Minister Stanton.