Air Pollution Act
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, and deemed that the sulphur content of low smoke coal should not exceed 2%. 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 "low smoke" from May 2013, and making the burning of smoky coal an offence in low smoke 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.