Council staff have this week embarked on a door to door campaign to raise awareness among householders of the importance of complying with the Smoky Coal ban in Letterkenny.
This is as a result of a stark reduction in air quality since the burning season began in October this year and is evident from the real time air quality information that has been derived from the air quality station recently installed by the Council as part of the EPA’s national ambient air quality monitoring network.
253 homes have been visited this week alone and Council Environmental staff are keen to raise awareness among householders of the harm that can be done by burning smoky coal and the impact it has on air quality in the town and that the burning of smoky coal in Letterkenny is illegal.
Speaking this week Suzanne Bogan, Waste Awareness Officer with Donegal County Council explained that “over 1,000 people in Ireland suffered premature deaths every year due to poor air quality and in Donegal the particulate matter coming from the burning of solid fuel for home heating is the main cause of poor air quality. We have seen a noticeable decrease in the air quality in Letterkenny especially at weekends since October this year and are keen to highlight this to householders who may simply not be aware of the impact that burning smoky coal can have on their own families, neighbours and friends”.
She adds “when you tell people that they can make a real and meaningful difference over the winter burning season by using longer lasting low smoke fuels, such as low smoke coal or wood, kindling, fire logs, fire starter logs; or turf or turf products, it does have an impact and this is why we have taken this initiative to visit homes in the area”.
Householders are obliged to comply with the smoky coal ban when burning fuel and should discuss the many different types of low smoke fuels that are available with their local coal merchant.
Alongside this initiative the Council is continuing to work with the Revenue Commissioners, in a multi-agency enforcement initiative, focusing on the coal retail / merchant sector. This involves the inspection of delivery lorries and new legislation has also made provision for fixed penalty notices for breaches of the legislation within the coal sector ranging from €250 – €1,000.
“It is important to remember that the sole purpose of this law is to deliver cleaner air” says Suzanne Bogan and “it is only through the continued support of householders, coal retailers and merchants that improvements in air quality will continue”.