Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

12.18 22 Jul 2020


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Danny Healy-Rae has said he's 'very worried' that the smoky coal ban could lead to a ban on burning other types of fuel.

Climate Action Minister Eamon Ryan has confirmed more regional towns - such as Mallow, Killarney, Castlebar and Enniscorthy - will be included in the ban from September.

The Government has already pledged to have a full nationwide ban within the term of the current coalition.

Minister Ryan has said the move is necessary to help address the health issues caused by air pollution.

Studies have found that the smoky coal ban in large cities has led to improvements in air quality and therefore people's health.

However, Kerry Independent TD Danny Healy-Rae says he's concerned about a wider smoky coal ban on two fronts.

Healy-Rae 'very worried' smoky coal ban will lead to ban on burning timber and turf

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Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, he said: "First of all, elderly people who have very little money to spend on fuel will have to pay more for the smokeless coal, and the Government I don't think are going to subsidise or help them in any way.

"The second thing is, and more important, I believe that if they introduce the smoky coal ban all over the country... within hours the coal companies will challenge the Government on this and take them to court."

He said he believes the result of that could be a ban on burning turf or timber.

Asked about scientific studies showing that smokeless coal is cheaper in the long-term as it is hotter and lasts longer than the smoky variety, Deputy Healy Rae insisted he'd heard the opposite argument as well.

He said: "We're worn out from studies and reports.

"I'm not criticising all scientists per se - but what I am saying is that people back over the years and back over the centuries have cut turf and time, and they've kept themselves warm.

"I can see what's coming over the line if they put a smoky coal ban all over the country."

He also insisted that people in his county have a "hatred" for informers - saying anyone he knows will not be alerting gardaí if they do suspect their neighbours of burning smoky coal.

Also speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, Climate Action Minister Eamon Ryan insisted people's health will be improved when the smoky coal ban is widely ruled out.

He said: "Air pollution is serious for people with asthma, for people with lung and heart conditions... a cause of death for hundreds of people across the country every year.

"It's absolutely right for us to tackle that health crisis - that ongoing epidemic of real health problems that comes from bad air quality."

Main image: File photo of Danny Healy-Rae. Picture by: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

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