Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Ceisteanna (505, 513)

Seán Sherlock

Ceist:

505. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if his attention has been drawn to the poor air quality recorded by an organisation (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51350/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

513. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he will report on a recent report (details supplied) regarding air quality in Cork city; his views on same; his plans to address the issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51607/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 505 and 513 together.

Cork City is subject to the smoky coal ban introduced in 1995.

Local Authorities are primarily responsible for the enforcement of the “smoky coal” ban within their functional areas. The powers that Local Authorities have are extensive. For example:

i. local authority staff may undertake inspections of premises and vehicles being used for the sale and distribution of solid fuel as well as collect samples;

ii. a local authority may bring a prosecution under the Air Pollution Act for breaches of the Regulations

iii. a Local Authority may issue a Fixed Payment Notice (or ‘on the spot fine’) for alleged offences relating to the marketing, sale and distribution of prohibited fuels in Low Smoke Zones (LSZs), with a penalty range of €250 to €1000.

Further extension of the smoky coal ban in key locations would have a positive impact on air quality and public health, particularly in built up areas. Regarding the proposed national extension of the smoky coal ban, a number of coal firms have indicated that they would challenge the proposal to expand the smoky coal ban nationwide, and also challenge the existing ban on the basis that the State should also apply such a ban to the burning of other fossil fuels, including wood and peat products.

Advice has been received from the Attorney General on this issue. I are continuing to work with the Attorney General to finalise a legally robust plan, which will improve air quality by reducing air pollution, without jeopardising the existing ban. I expect to bring proposals to Government shortly on the matter.

My Department is not familiar with either the report or the organisation that produced it.