A ban on the burning of smoky coal and other prohibited fuels now applies in all smoky coal ban Low Smoke Zones (LSZs) to complement the ban on the marketing, sale and distribution. The Minister announced on 6th December 2017 his intention to introduce a nationwide Low Smoke Zone. The ban on the sale of smoky coal in the existing zones, which has been in place in larger towns for some time, will be extended countrywide from Autumn of 2018. The minister intends to allow coal distributors 12 months from then to sell off existing stocks before a total ban comes into effect in 2019.
The smoky coal ban allowed significant falls in respiratory problems and premature deaths from the effects of burning smoky coal in the existing Low Smoke Zones. The original ban in Dublin is cited widely as a successful policy intervention and has become something of an icon of best practice within the international clean air community. Approximately 8,000 premature deaths have been averted in Dublin since the introduction of the smoky coal ban back in 1990. Further health, environmental and economic benefits (estimated at €53m per year) will be realised, when the ban is extended nationwide.