Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Questions (751, 779, 780)

Joan Burton

Question:

751. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if his attention has been drawn to the dangers of air pollution from sources such as exhaust emissions, soil and road surfaces, construction work and industrial emissions; the number of premature deaths to date in 2019 that are directly attributable to poor air quality; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24290/19]

View answer

Joan Burton

Question:

779. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of air pollution breaches recorded at monitoring stations nationally to date in 2019; the locations in which air pollution readings breached the standard safe reading level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24288/19]

View answer

Joan Burton

Question:

780. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment when the national ban on harmful smoky coal will come into force; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24289/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 751, 779 and 780 together.

Recent scientific evidence indicates that air pollution is more damaging at lower concentrations than was previously understood. Air pollution also arises from a wide range of sources, including residential heating, transport and agriculture. With this in mind, I am committed to bringing forward Ireland's first ever National Clean Air Strategy. The Strategy, which I intend to publish later this year, will provide the policy framework necessary to identify and promote integrated measures across Government that are required to reduce air pollution and promote cleaner air, while delivering on wider national objectives.

The ban on the marketing, sale and distribution of bituminous coal, or ‘the smoky coal ban’ as it is commonly known, has proven very successful since first introduced in Dublin in 1990 and subsequently extended so that it now applies in 26 urban areas nationwide.

I am disappointed that a number of coal firms have indicated they would legally challenge the decision of two former Ministers to extend the ban nationwide. As a result it has not proven possible to extend the ban nationwide for the 2019/2020 year. The coal companies have indicated that if the smoky coal ban is extended, they will challenge both the new ban and the existing ban, on the basis that the state should also have to ban the burning of other fossil fuels, including wood and peat products. I am working with the Attorney General to finalise a legally robust plan which will improve air quality by reducing particulate matter in the air.

Estimates of the numbers of deaths attributable to air pollution in 41 European countries are released on an annual basis by the European Environment Agency. This assessment requires information on air pollution, demographic data, and the relationship between exposure to ambient pollutant concentrations and a health outcome. Figures for 2019 are not yet available. The latest report, published in 2018, gives data for 2015 and is available at the following link:

https://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/air-quality-in-europe-2018

It indicates that there were in the order of 1,150 premature deaths in Ireland attributable to air pollution in 2015.

In relation to the number of air pollution breaches so far in 2019, ambient air quality monitoring in Ireland is carried out in accordance with the requirements of the 2008 Clean Air for Europe (CAFE) Directive (Directive 2008/50/EC), and the Fourth Daughter Directive (Directive 2004/107/EC of 15 December 2004). These Directives also include rules on how Member States should monitor, assess and manage ambient air quality.

Following a review by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of air quality monitoring and information provision in Ireland, a decision was taken to expand and enhance the air quality monitoring network. The roll-out of the enhanced network, the Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Programme (AAMP), is progressing and over the period 2017 to 2022 will more than double the capacity of ambient air quality monitoring in Ireland. One of the key objectives of the programme is to enhance the provision of real time air quality data to the public. My Department has committed funding of some €5 million over the lifetime of the programme.

Regarding the number of breaches recorded this year, provisional data from the EPA, which is subject to further validation, indicates that up until 6 June, there have been 98 breaches of the PM10 daily limit value during 2019 at stations as outlined in the table. Under the provisions of the CAFE Directive, an exceedance for PM10 is recorded if the limit is breached more than 35 times at an individual monitoring station during the year.

Number of values greater than 50 ug/m3

Station Name

Year to date 06/06/2019

Station Location

Station Type

Station Operator

Ballyfermot

7

Dublin 10

Suburban Background

Dublin City Council

Blanchardstown

4

Dublin 15

Suburban Traffic

Fingal County Council

Brownes Road

1

Waterford City

Suburban Background

EPA

Castlebar

1

Co. Mayo

Suburban Background

EPA

CIT Bishopstown

3

Cork City

Suburban Background

CIT

Davitt Road

15

Dublin 2

Suburban Traffic

Dublin City Council

Dundalk

2

Co. Louth

Suburban Background

EPA

Enniscorthy

11

Enniscorthy Town

Suburban Background

Wexford County Council

Finglas

2

Dublin 11

Suburban Background

Dublin City Council

Kilkitt

1

Co. Monaghan

Rural Background

EPA

Marino

4

Dublin 3

Suburban Background

Dublin City Council

Phoenix Park

2

Dublin 8

Suburban Background

Dublin City Council

Rathmines

5

Dublin 6

Urban Background

EPA

Ringsend

12

Dublin 4

Urban Traffic

EPA

Roscommon

2

Roscommon City

Suburban Background

EPA

Seville Lodge

7

Kilkenny City

Suburban Background

EPA

South Link Road

5

Cork City

Suburban Traffic

Cork City Council

St. Anne’s

1

Dublin 5

Suburban Background

EPA

St. John’s Road West

5

Dublin 8

Urban Traffic

Dublin City Council

Winetavern Street

8

Dublin 8

Urban Traffic

Dublin City Council

There have been no breaches of limit values for other pollutants so far this year.