The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Eamon Ryan TD, has signed Regulations to give legal effect to the extension of the smoky coal ban to all towns with populations of over 10,000 people.
From September 1, the burning, sale and marketing of smoky coal will be prohibited in thirteen additional areas across the country including the towns of Castlebar and Ballina.
Sharon Cameron, Environment Awareness Officer with Mayo County Council welcomed the extension of the Smoky Coal Ban to include areas of County Mayo.
She said: "I understand these new regulations will bring changes for householders who have always burned smoky coal but it is great to know that we can look forward to cleaner air in the towns of Ballina, Castlebar and the surrounding townlands over the months ahead.
"We ask householders in the newly designated ‘low smoke zones’ to make sure they are only purchasing coal in sealed bags that carry the wording ‘Approved Fuel – Contents comply with the Air Pollution Act Regulations’ and the bags should also carry the Swift 7 logo; by doing this you are helping to improve the air in your home and in your neighbourhood.”
Local Authorities are primarily responsible for the enforcement of the smoky coal ban within their functional areas. The powers that Local Authorities have are extensive.
For example: (1 ) Local Authority staff may undertake inspections of premises and vehicles being used for the sale and distribution of solid fuel as well as collect samples; (2 ) A Local Authority may bring a prosecution under the Air Pollution Act for breaches of the Regulations and (3 ) A Local Authority may issue 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.
As part of the Programme for Government, the Department has also committed to developing further a multi-agency enforcement approach and will be working with local authorities and other relevant stakeholders in this context over the coming months.
Full details of the new regulations and maps of areas included in the smoky coal ban are available from https://www.mayo.ie/environment/enforcement or email [email protected] or by calling: (094 ) 9064000.