Athlone a designated low smoke zone as awareness campaign launched

At the recent launch of the Government’s Smoky Coal Ban awareness campaign, Westmeath County Council Cathaoirleach, Cllr Ken Glyn, noted the need to choose low smoke options when heating homes this winter season.

“We all like to be cosy and warm during cold winter months, so, in this regard, let us make sure that we are choosing low smoke options when heating our homes this winter season.

“Athlone is a designated low smoke zone and we can all play our part in ensuing that our air is clean and clear by choosing low smoke options when buying fuel.

“We have two air quality stations located in the county which are monitored by the EPA on an ongoing basis recording the quality of the air we breathe,” Cllr Glynn commented.

This awareness campaign is part of the Government’s Programme for Government. New regulations extend the ban to a further 13 urban areas and it now applies to all towns with a population of over 10,000 people.

At the announcement of the extension to these additional areas Minister Ryan stated “I am very pleased to extend this ban to a further 13 urban areas. This measure will reduce air pollution and promote public health. The main health effects of air pollution include stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and both chronic and acute respiratory diseases such as asthma. Fine particulate matter, the pollutant of most concern from domestic solid fuel burning is linked to a range of diseases. Banning smoky coal saves lives and improves health outcomes.”

The geographical boundaries of the new low smoke zones have been defined following extensive liaison with the relevant local authorities. An interactive online map is now available to illustrate both the existing and new low smoke zones. The map includes an Eircode search facility, where a user can enter the Eircode of any particular premises to see whether or not it falls within a low smoke zone.

“Local authorities are primarily responsible for the enforcement of the smoky coal ban within their functional areas and have been granted extensive powers to include undertaking inspections of premises and vehicles being used for the sale and distribution of solid fuel as well as collect samples, bringing a prosecution under the Air Pollution Act for breaches of the regulations and issuing a Fixed Payment Notice (or ‘on the spot fine’ ) for alleged offences relating to the marketing, sale and distribution of prohibited fuels in Low Smoke Zones (LSZs ), with a penalty range of €250 to €1000,” Ciaran Jordan, Senior Executive Engineer, Environment Department, stated.


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