A local fuel supplier has warned that increasing carbon taxes is going to lead to a lucrative black market trade in coal.
Tom Sweeney, who has been operating a farm and fuel supplies business in Mayo for 30 years, said a carbon tax of €30 is to be introduced on each ton of coal from May 1.
This is on top of an existing carbon tax of €30 already applied last year.
He said this now means €77 of the cost of each ton of coal delivered to his customers is made up of VAT and taxes.
“This tax is being implemented as the summer arrives and people stop using coal. Then when September comes around again and people order their fuel, it looks like we [suppliers] have increased the prices. That’s not the case. The reality is that the Government makes more profit on coal than I do,” said Mr Sweeney.
“It’s getting to the stage where alot of people can’t afford a ton of coal.”
He warned that people would resort to driving over the border to Northern Ireland in vans to buy fuel or would buy fuel illegally smuggled into the country by rogue suppliers.
“They’ll make a nice lucrative trade out of this,” continued Mr Sweeney. “It will end up like the cigarettes. People will buy them cheaper where they can get them and it will put more people out of business.”