The regulation of Dublin’s coal market came into force following the episodes of smog that blighted the City in the 1980s. The Air Pollution Act was introduced in 1987 and the Marketing, Sale and Distribution of Fuels Regulations came into force in September 1990.
The Regulations banned the sale of bituminous or ‘smoky’ coal in Dublin, but not the burning of it, and deemed that the sulphur content of smokeless coal (now called low smoke solid fuel) should not exceed 1.5%. The introduction of natural gas combined with the ban on the sale of smoky coal lead to a huge improvement in air quality and health in Dublin. Subsequent regulations extended the ban to numerous cities including Cork, Limerick and Galway.
Until 2012, only the marketing, sale and distribution of smoky coal was covered by the legislation but new regulations were introduced to make it an offence to burn smoky coal in any private dwelling. The Air Pollution Act (Marketing, Sale, Distribution and Burning of Specified Fuels) Regulations 2012 came into force nationally on 31 August 2012 following public consultation, making 7 new towns smokeless from May 2013, and making the burning of smoky coal an offence in smokeless areas. In some cases, towns with a ban already in place had their boundaries extended to cover areas just outside the towns that had developed in the construction boom. The ban now applies to the whole city and county area of Dublin.
In addition, all bagging operators supplying smoky coal for residential use must register with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on an annual basis. All fuel suppliers whose main business is in smoky coal must also register with the EPA. The local authorities will make returns for their inspections to the EPA too. The links to the background to the changes to the Regulations and the consultation process can be found here.
The EHOs in the Air Quality and Noise Control Unit have maintained a presence on the streets of Dublin enforcing the legislation since it was first introduced. They carry out inspections of fuel yards, fuel vehicles, shops and garage forecourts. The changes in the legislation in 2012 will present new enforcement issues and co-operation with both members of the public and fuel suppliers is fundamental to ensuring that air quality remains good in the city.
If you witness the sale of smoky coal (Polish, Texan, Premium etc) in your area, please contact Dublin City Council Customer Care with details of the vehicle, registration number, shop address etc. In addition, if your neighbour is causing a nuisance to you by burning smoky coal, please contact Dublin City Council to report the problem.
For more information
Dublin City Council
Customer Service Centre
Tel: (01) 222 2222 (0800-1800, Monday to Friday)
Fax: (01) 222 2222