The Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan TD, signed the New Solid Fuel Regulations into Irish Law and they came into effect on the 31st of October 2022. The Air Pollution Act 1987 (Solid Fuel) Regulations 2022 aims to build upon previous efforts to improve Air Quality across Ireland and to reduce premature deaths and illnesses arising from air pollution. The new regulations are being introduced across a range of fuel types to ensure that the most polluting solid fuels will no longer be available for sale on the Irish market.
The primary focus of the draft regulations is on the large-scale, commercial sale of smoky fuels, including smoky coal, turf, and wet wood. These fuels are proven to be a major contributor to air pollution in Ireland.
Very low smoke emissions rates will be set for coal, coal-based products and manufactured solid fuel or peat briquettes, effectively prohibiting the use of bituminous coal i.e., smoky coal in the future. Smoky coal refers to coal that is branded Polish, Columbian, House coal etc. The New Regulations also introduce restrictions on the sale of wet wood and turf. Burning of solid fuels, is a significant contributor to poor local air quality by increasing the amount of fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) and other pollutants in our homes and communities.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimate that each year there are 1,300 premature deaths in Ireland due to air pollution. The burning of bituminous coal and other smoky solid fuels releases particulate matter into the atmosphere. The most harmful of these, PM2.5particles, have been proven to have a significant detrimental effect on human health.
Medical research has shown links between the burning of bituminous coal in private houses and increased health risks including heart attack, stroke, cancer, brain tumors, asthma, bronchitis, bronchiolitis, and many other cardiac and respiratory conditions, as well as premature mortality. The elderly, the very young and other vulnerable groups, such as people with respiratory conditions, are particularly at risk.
Alternative, low-smoke fuels/ Smokeless Coals are cleaner, more cost-efficient and reduce exposure to harmful pollutants.
Householders should be aware that burning any type of waste in a domestic fire is illegal and leads to the release of toxic substances into the air in your home and the surrounding environment. Treated timber, which contains glues, resins, and paints, should also never be burned in a domestic fire for the same reasons.
Under the regulations the following new health standards for solid fuels will apply from 31st October this year.
- Coal products and manufactured solid fuels must have a smoke emission rate of less than 10g/hour.
- Manufactured part biomass products must have a smoke emission rate of less than 5g/hr.
- Coal products and manufactured solid fuels, including manufactured part biomass products, must have a sulfur content of less than 2% by weight on a dry ash-free basis.
- Fuel products which are 100% biomass products including wood products and wood logs, supplied in units under 2m³, must have a moisture content less than 25%.
- Wet wood sold over these volumes will be required to come with instructions for the purchaser on how to appropriately dry the wood i.e., the need to store and season wet wood until it is sufficiently dried.
- It will not be possible to sell turf via retail, online or other online or media outlets, in public houses or other public places. Persons with turbary rights may continue to cut turf for their own use and retain the ability to gift turf, therefore if you currently source turf from family, friends, neighbor’s, outside of the channels previously mentioned this can continue.
Monaghan County Council shall be responsible for enforcing these regulations in its functional area and are running an Environmental Awareness Campaign in December.
Compliance Inspections shall be carried out by Monaghan County Council’s Enforcement Officers, particularly in respect of retailers, coal merchants and coal delivery trucks. This will include Vehicle Checkpoints with An Garda Siochana throughout the county to ensure only Approved Solid Fuels are being sold within the county.
Further information on The New Solid Fuel Regulations can be found on Monaghan County Councils Website https://monaghan.ie/environment/solid-fuels-regulations-tab/,
What the new regulations mean to Householders: FAQ for Householders , Retailers: FAQ for Retailers , Producers/Importers: FAQ for Producers or Importers ,Couriers/Haulage Companies: FAQ for Couriers and Haulage Companies can be found on the Government website, Clean Air.ie or by the following the links displayed above from Monaghan County Councils Website.
County Monaghan’s Live Air Quality Data, can also be viewed on Monaghan County Council’s Website – Air Quality Section. (https://monaghan.ie/environment/air-quality-data/),