Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Ceisteanna (258)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

258. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the specific actions he is taking to protect public health in response to EPA monitoring data that show dangerous levels of air pollution in several towns due to burning of residential solid fuel (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52078/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

Transitioning away from fossil fuels and to more renewable, sustainable energy sources is at the heart of the Climate Action Plan. The Plan includes a number of actions which will also have a significant impact on reducing emissions and improving air quality, including:

- Putting 180,000 electric vehicles on our roads by 2025 and almost 1m by 2030

- Ensuring the EV charging network underpins public confidence

- Creating an early public procurement framework for EVs

- Accelerating steps to decarbonise the public transport fleet

- Establishing a Cycling Project Office, develop a 5 year cycling strategy and roll out 200km of new cycle lanes through bus connects

- Developing a new Park and Ride Strategy, to reduce congestion and lower journey times

- Developing a regulatory framework on low emission zones and parking pricing policies, and provide local authorities with the power to restrict access to certain parts of a city or a town to zero emission vehicles only

- Legislating for no new fossil fuel vehicles to be sold from 2030 onwards.

Further to the above, work is currently continuing on the National Clean Air Strategy, which will be the first all of government response reducing air pollution and promoting cleaner air.

Extending the ban on the use of smoky coal would have a positive impact on air quality, particularly in built up areas.

As I have said on a number of occasions recently, I am disappointed at the threats by a number of coal companies relating to the proposed nationwide extension of the ban, given the benefits it would bring for public health and air quality. My officials and 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 jeopardizing the existing ban and this plan will be published shortly.

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