New standards for all domestic solid fuels will be introduced across the State within a year. From that point on, the most polluting of fuels will no longer be available on the Irish market.
Poor air quality causes premature deaths and each year some 1,300 people die in Ireland due to air pollution from solid fuel burning. This demonstrates the extent to which the choices we make when heating our homes can impact on our own health and the communities in which we live.
“When this Government was formed, we gave a commitment to tackle air pollution caused by domestic solid fuel burning, and we remain committed to doing so,” said Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan TD marking International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies in September.
“We took a major step earlier this year, with a public consultation on the development of new solid fuels regulations for Ireland. We received more than 3,500 responses across all strands of the consultation, with a wide variety of suggested regulatory approaches for solid fuels.
“Having considered the submissions made by the public, health experts, advocacy groups, academia and industry, a framework for legislation has been developed and drafting of the regulations is underway.”
From 2022 the following new standards for solid fuels will apply in Ireland:
• Coal, coal-based products, any manufactured solid fuel or peat briquettes will be required to have a smoke emission rate of less than 10g/hour, reducing to 5g/hr by 2025.
• It is not proposed to make any changes to the smoke emission rate for biomass products (that contain coal), as this is already set at 5g/hr.
• The sulphur content permitted for all fuels will be reduced from 2 per cent to 1 per cent over time.
• Wood sold in single units under 2m³ will be required to have a moisture content of 25 per cent or less (moving to 20 per cent within four years) and wet wood sold over these volumes will be required to come with instructions for the purchaser on how to dry this wood.
• In order to accommodate those with rights to harvest sod peat, no ban on its burning will be introduced. However, a regulatory regime to reduce its harm in more urbanised areas is under examination.
These regulations will be finalised in the coming months and will be in place for the 2022 heating season. They are being announced now to allow those servicing the domestic solid fuel market to plan accordingly and to continue to invest in less polluting alternatives.
The Minister added: “In the meantime, I trust that people will take note of the messages in the forthcoming public awareness campaign, and take these simple steps to bring about better air quality and improved health for all. During this period, people are being empowered to make a conscious, personal choice to contribute to cleaner air and a healthier environment.”
The campaign will centre around three core messages or the ‘ABC’ for Cleaner Air, which can help bring about significant improvements in air quality:
A – Ask yourself: ‘Do I need to light a fire?’ Use other cleaner heating sources instead if possible.
B – Burn cleaner, more efficient, low-smoke fuels and make sure you use the right fuel for your appliance.
C – Clean and maintain your chimneys and heating appliances at least once a year.