THE air quality in Ennis has shown a “very significant improvement” following the introduction of the smoky coal ban just over a year ago, figures from the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) have shown.
Ennis and environs, including Clarecastle, became a ‘smoky’ coal ban area following the introduction of solid fuel regulations on August 1, 2011 and from that date, it was an offence to market, sell or distribute bituminous or smoky coal within the areas specified under the ban. Parts of South-East Clare bordering Limerick City have formed part of the smoky coal ban area covering Limerick City and its environs since 1998.
New regulations implemented from August 31 of this year have also banned the burning of bituminous coal by the occupier of any dwelling located within a smoky coal ban area.
The EPA monitors air quality in Ennis on a continuous basis and monitoring has shown there has been a significant improvement in air quality in Ennis since the introduction of the ban. EPA figures show there has been 10 exceedances of the PM10 daily limit value set out by the EPA in the period between October 2011 and March 2012, while in the period between October 2010 and March 2011, before the smoky coal ban was introduced, there were 42 exceedances of the PM10 daily limit value. PM10 are very fine particles of dust that are released into the atmosphere when smoky solid fuels are burned and can be harmful to the environment and human health when the daily limit values are exceeded more than 35 times in a single year.
According to Anne Haugh, director of services, Clare County Council, “The figures provided by the EPA represent a very significant improvement in air quality over a relatively short space of time. It should be noted that the winter of 2011/2012 was milder than the two previous winters but nonetheless, this signals very positive progress in only the first year of the smoky coal ban in Ennis.”
Ms Haugh continued, “Over the last year, Clare County Council has worked to increase public awareness of the regulations and to ensure that the regulations are enforced in an effective manner. Staff of Clare County Council have carried out over 150 inspections to check that those supplying fuels are in compliance with the regulations. The council also acknowledges there has been a high level of co-operation from both fuel suppliers and the public in the implementation of the regulations.”
In the Ennis and environs area, the smoky coal ban covers all townlands within the electoral divisions of Ennis No 1 to 4 Urban, Clareabbey, Doora, Ennis Rural and Spancilhill. Also included are the townlands of Ballyalla, Ballymulqueeny and Clonteen from the electoral division of Templemaley.
The smoky coal ban area covers all of the urban area of Ennis and significant parts of surrounding areas, including Clarecastle. The smoky coal ban area extends from approximately Latoon, to the south of Ennis, to Ballyallia and Ballymaley, to the north, and from Inch Bridge, to the west of Ennis, to within approximately 1km of Quin village, to the east.