The smoky coal ban which comes into effect on Tramore as of September 1 represents a further step in the right environmental direction according to Green Party TD Marc Ó Cathasaigh.
“Poor air quality has been linked to the deaths of 1,500 Irish people every year with those most vulnerable being children and the elderly,” said Deputy Ó Cathasaigh.
“According to the EPA, the threat from solid fuel fires in small towns is only exceeded by pollution from cars in urban areas. The next step is a full nationwide smoky coal ban which I believe will take place within the lifetime of the government. It will, quite simply, save lives”
His colleague, Councillor Susan Gallagher, a native of Dublin, can recall the controversy which arose when the smoky coal ban was introduced in the capital back in 1990.
“I also remember the smell and taste of the smog during my childhood,” she said. “I remember hurrying home from school on cold winter days, because we were told to spend as little time as possible out in the smog. On very smoggy days, it was even difficult to see the cars when you were crossing the road to get home.”
Cllr Gallagher added: “Since then, air pollution levels in Dublin have fallen by 70% in Dublin and smog is a feature of the past. I look forward to seeing this ban rolled out nationwide but, in the meantime, I am very happy to see Tramore included in the list. This is a relatively small change which will have a huge impact on the community.”
Minister for the Envrionment Eamon Ryan stated: “The main health effects of air pollution include stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and both chronic and acute respiratory diseases, including asthma. Fine particulate matter, the pollutant of most concern from domestic solid fuel burning is linked to a range of diseases.” He also confirmed that he will introduce the “necessary measures over the term of Government to move towards the implementation of a full nationwide ban”.
The other towns (with populations in excess of 10,000) included in the ban are Cavan Town, Carrigtwohill, Cobh, Midleton and Mallow (Cork); Killarney (Kerry); Longford Town; Castlebar and Ballina, (Mayo); Ashbourne and Laytown-Bettystown (Meath); Tullamore (Offaly) and Enniscorthy, (Wexford).