Paddy Casey

Want It Cant Have It

Midlands TDs Oppose Government's Plan For Nationwide Smoky Coal Ban

One TD says fuel alternatives should be found, instead of issuing ultimatums.

The government needs to provide alternatives, rather than issue ultimatums, when it comes to the burning of solid fuels.

That's the view of Laois-Offaly Fianna Fáil TD Barry Cowen, after the Environment Minister announced plans for a nationwide ban on smoky coal.

The public consultation will also look at the dangers of burning other fuels like wet wood, with Minister Eamon Ryan warning 1,300 people are dying prematurely from air pollution every year.

Deputy Cowen says people in the midlands are more exposed to the proposed measure:

His government colleague, Longford-Westmeath Fine Gael TD Peter Burke, also voiced his opposition.

The Minister of State at the Department of Housing says, "we are investing now more heavily in the green economy which is a positive step, but it is absolutely crucial that infrastructure and alternatives are put in place in tandem to this investment, so that people reliant on turf and other fuels are not left at a disadvantage. 

“My Department, along with the Department of Climate Action, is putting forward a retrofit programme for social housing in the midlands as part of the Just Transition, but this is on a small scale when you consider the total number of homes in our region totally reliant on solid fuel to keep warm. 

"Minister Ryan has made the commitment to have 500,000 homes retrofitted by 2030, which is an ambitious aim, but we must see this in place before we remove important sources of energy. 

"Retrofitting is very labour intensive and while it is our goal, we need to ramp up the scale and speed of this before knock on effects are felt.

“I know constituents of mine are in favour of climate policies and are forward thinking in relation to the environment, we have seen how people are embracing more sustainable lifestyles over the last number of months which is hugely positive. 

"But they must be supported in this by government.  At a time when we are introducing many new environmental measures, public buy-in is of vital importance from all in our towns and villages. 

"That is not done through short-term divisive measures and creating fear among our community”.

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