Minister Denis Naughten has announced that Ireland will be the first country in Europe to extend a nationwide ban on smoky coal.
A ban on the sale of smoky coal was first introduced in Dublin in 1990. Research has shown this move resulted in 350 fewer deaths per year throughout the city.
Minister Naughten has confirmed that negotiations with Member States have now ended successfully leading to the next stage of a process that will see the nationwide ban come into effect from next year. Ireland was required to consult with the European Commission to give effect to the ban to ensure the measures are compatible with EU legislation and the internal market.
The ban, will come into effect incrementally, beginning from the heating season which is Autumn 2018. It is not proposed to introduce an immediate ban on the sale and distribution of smoky coal at that point but to allow a period of 12 months for the industry to 'wash through' existing stock with a full ban coming into effect from Autumn 2019.
Minister Naughten added: "Today is a key milestone in the process that will see a nationwide ban on smoky coal. Four people a day in this country are dying as a direct result of complications from poor air quality and one in five children in Ireland suffer from asthma. We will be the first country in the EU to extend a nationwide ban of smoky coal and this will save lives. The final stage of the process involving the residential fuel industry, agencies and the general public is now underway that will ensure a smooth transition to the nationwide ban."