Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Questions (851)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

851. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his views on the report from the Environmental Protection Agency Air Quality in Ireland 2018 and its specific call for the effective implementation and enforcement of the proposed nationwide smoky coal ban to reduce air pollution; the timeline for a decision in relation to fulfilling the existing commitment to introduce a smoky coal ban; his views on the comments by an organisation (details supplied) on the issue of the smoky coal ban; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44548/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

I welcome the recent publication by the Environmental Protection report “Air Quality in Ireland 2018”, which sets out the current position as regards our air quality and illustrates certain challenges in this regard. The report indicates that air quality levels at monitoring sites in Ireland were below the current EU legislative limit values in 2018, although the stricter World Health Organisation (WHO) guideline values (which are lower and, therefore, offer greater protection) were exceeded at a number of monitoring sites for fine particulate matter, ozone, and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). Particulate matter from the domestic burning of solid fuel is one of the main pollutants identified in the report. In relation to the proposed nationwide extension of the ban on the marketing, sale and distribution of bituminous coal (or “the smoky coal ban”, as it is commonly known), I refer the Deputy to my reply to Question [41406/19] of 16 October, and note that the position is unchanged.

In relation to the comments of the Asthma Society, my officials recently had a positive meeting with representatives of the Society to hear their views on the issue, and I look forward to further engagement in the future.

In the meantime, I intend to publish the National Clean Air Strategy in the coming months, to inter alia set out a number of policy measures to improve air quality nationwide.

My Department is also funding the Environmental Protection Agency’s roll-out of the Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Programme (AAMP), which will greatly improve the data available on air pollution in Ireland, facilitating the design and targeting of appropriate policy measures to tackle it.