Members of the public and solid fuel traders who hold “smoky” coal in Limerick City and parts of southeast Clare and who attempt to distribute or sell it could be liable for a spot fine of €1,000 under new penalties introduced by Government.
Limerick City and County Council says the signing into law of the Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2015, has increased enforcement options for local authorities who are now enabled the issue fixed or “on-the-spot” penalty notices for breaches of the Air Pollution Act.
Limerick City and its environs, including parts of southeast Clare, became a ‘smoky’ coal ban area following the introduction of solid fuel regulations in 1999 and from that date it has been an offence to market, sell or distribute bituminous or smoky coal within the areas specified under the ban.
“The Council is continually monitoring coal traders’ outlets and their vehicles to assess the level of compliance with the regulations. Where breaches are detected, enforcement action will be instigated accordingly. A number of successful prosecutions have been instigated in recent years,” stated a spokesperson for the Environment Section of Limerick City and County Council.
The spokesperson added: “Furthermore, with the onset of autumn the Council is mounting its seasonal awareness campaign by distributing publicity information to traders, public buildings and community groups. The Council will also be using its powers under the Air Pollution Act, 1987 to request information from coal traders.”
The EPA monitors air quality in Limerick City on a continuous basis and monitoring has shown that there has been a significant improvement in air quality since the introduction of the ban in 1999.
According to Limerick City and County Council however, a minority of householders are continuing to burn smoky coal.
“Smoky coal, by its nature, results in the disproportionate generation of unsightly and smelly smoke in residential areas and the creation of a health hazard for those with breathing difficulties. Householders in the affected estates are being written to and where the problem persists, more targeted enforcement action will be instigated,” concluded the Council spokesperson.
The following penalties apply under the Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2015, which may be viewed at http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/2015/act/29/enacted/en/pdf.
(a) €1,000, where the relevant offence consists of a contravention of Regulation 5(1) of the 2012 Regulations i.e. a solid fuel trader placing on the market, selling or distributing any “smoky” coal in the city and surrounding hinterland.
(b) €500, where the relevant offence consists of a contravention of regulation 5(2)(a), 5(2)(b), 5(4)(b), or 7(1)(c) ie. in relation to packaging, labelling of solid fuel, the carriage of specified fuel with non-specified fuel or the sealing of bags and the holding of correct documentation etc.
(c) €250, where the relevant offence consists of a contravention of regulation 5(5) or 7(1)(d) of the Fuel Regulations.” i.e. the holding of records, including on a vehicle, showing the source and destination of specified fuels etc.