Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Ceisteanna (59)

Éamon Ó Cuív


59. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of prosecutions that have been taken against persons selling non-compliant high-sulphur solid fuel in the past three years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16266/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

Enforcement action against breaches of the Air Pollution Act (Marketing, Sale, Distribution and Burning of Specified Fuels) Regulations 2012, as amended, is a matter for Local Authorities and my Department does not compile statistics in relation to prosecutions taken or fines imposed.

These Regulations prohibit the placing on the market, sale or distribution of solid fuels for residential use within the State unless:

- the sulphur content of the bituminous coal is less than 0.7% by weight on a dry ash-free basis;

- the sulphur content of low smoke solid fuels and low smoke biomass products is less than 2% by weight on a dry ash-free basis;

- the solid fuels are supplied in sealed bags; and

- the person or body concerned holds records confirming the product contains less than the permitted sulphur content for that fuel.

The Regulations also prohibit the burning of bituminous coal within designated areas.

Under the Environmental Protection Agency Act (Registration of Coal Bagging Operators and Solid Fuel Suppliers) Regulations 2012 (S.I. No. 454 of 2012), as amended, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maintains a register for each coal bagging operator who supplies bagged solid fuels for use in the Irish residential market. This register aids the Local Authorities in its enforcement activities in this area. Additionally, if the EPA is not satisfied that the product being supplied is compliant with the legal requirements it may refuse or revoke the registration of the bagging operator or fuel supplier.

Fixed payment notices (or ‘on the spot fines’) introduced under the Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2015 are in operation for certain offences relating to the supply and sale of solid fuel. Persons found to be marketing, selling or distributing smoky coal in breach of the Regulations are liable for a fixed payment notice of €1,000. Fixed payment notices of up to €500 can be applied against solid fuel wholesalers, distributors and obligated retailers who are not registered with the EPA.

Complaints regarding the sale of prohibited fuels, smoky emissions or other breaches of the regulations should, in the first instance, be reported to the Environment Section of the Local Authority concerned.

Question No. 60 answered with Question No. 36.