Ban on burning turf would be 'dire for Donegal'

A nationwide smoky coal ban would include turf and logs


With Christmas Eve only around the corner, many people are turning their attention to the state of their chimneys.

But for one Donegal councillor it is all about what can and can’t be burned in hearths and stoves.

Cllr Micheal Naughton (FF) is pleading for common sense to prevail when it comes to the proposed ban of burning turf and logs.

He was responding to news that the government's proposed nationwide smoky coal ban could include turf and logs.

A blanket ban on traditional solid fuel seems inevitable. That is despite Tuesday's announcement that for the time being, only a further 13 towns nationally were being added to the smoky coal ban.

Speaking at the December meeting of the Municipal District (MD) of Donegal, Cllr Naughton said: “You have to put the ass before the cart. You can’t ban all those fuels and put old people and families at risk of being cold. You have to put infrastructure in place first to make sure houses are properly heated.”

The councillor acknowledged that there was an issue with carbon emissions and air quality globally.

“But you have to look at the Chinas and Japans and the Russias and the Americas,” he said. “ We are here on a small island. If you sneeze, you nearly fall off.”

Cllr Barry Sweeny (FG) agreed that a gradual implementation process was needed.

“People don’t have the options or the finances to change just like that,” he said.

Fiona Kelly from Donegal County Council’s Environment section agreed there was talk about an all-Ireland campaign. But she said the issue in Donegal at present was the urban smoky coal ban and that was proving successful in Letterkenny.

Cllr Naughton replied: “It would be dire for Donegal if turf was included.”

On Tuesday, Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton TD announced an extension of the smoky coal ban. It will include all towns with a population of more than 10,000. But he said the government would not proceed with a nationwide ban at present.

The minister said this was on the basis that such a ban would carry a serious risk of illegality unless peat, turf and wet wood were included.

Minister Bruton said: “I am preparing the first ever Clean Air Strategy, and will come back to government in the New Year with further proposals to improve air quality.”

None of the 13 towns announced as part of the extended smoky coal ban are in Donegal. This means that Letterkenny remains the only town in the county with a smoky coal ban in place.

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