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Tipperary County Council Civic Offices, Clonmel | Civic Offices, Nenagh, Co. Tipperary
Tipperary County Council Civic Offices, Clonmel | Civic Offices, Nenagh, Co. Tipperary

Low Smoke Zones

Solid Fuel Regulations
S.I. No. 326/2012 - Air Pollution Act (Marketing, Sale, Distribution and Burning of Specified Fuels) Regulations 2012

The primary Irish legislation for the prevention and control of air pollution is the Air Pollution Act, 1987 (No. 6 of 1987) (as amended). This act provides a comprehensive statutory framework for the control of air quality. In accordance with the Air Pollution Act 1987 (as amended), Local Authorities are obliged to take whatever measures they consider necessary to prevent or limit air pollution in their area and the owners of certain industrial plants must obtain an air pollution licence from either their Local Authority or the EPA. The EPA and LA have separate licensing arrangements and it is not necessary for a company to apply to both of them.

There has long been a tradition of burning coal in Ireland. However, due to the increase in concerns for health risks and air quality issues from winter smog (smoke and sulphur dioxide emissions) in the 1980s, the Department of Environment introduced legislation to control the sale and supply of smoky coal. The smoky coal ban was progressively extended (see Table below) from 1990 to 2013 and now covers all urban areas with a population greater than 15,000.

Urban Area

Year smoky Coal Ban Introduced





Arklow, Drogheda, Dundalk, Limerick and Wexford


Waterford, Celbridge, Leixlip, Galway and Naas


Bray, Kilkenny, Sligo and Tralee


Athlone, Carlow, Clonmel and Ennis.


Greystones, Letterkenny, Mullingar, Navan, Newbridge, Portlaoise and Wicklow Town


The smoky coal ban areas are defined in the Regulations using Electoral Divisions and townlands. Maps of the smoky coal ban specified areas are available on the DoEHLG website - www.environ.ie/en/Environment/Atmosphere/AirQuality/SmokyCoalBan/.

Overview of Solid Fuel Regulations (SFR)
The SFR (S.I. No. 326 of 2012) consolidate and update the existing provisions of the Air Pollution Act, 1987 (Marketing, Sale and Distribution of Fuels) (Amendment) Regulations 1998 to 2011, and now provide for the following:

  1. The ban on the marketing, sale and distribution of bituminous or smoky coal by a person or body in specified areas covered by a smoky coal ban, which includes Clonmel and its environs (refer to ‘Maps’ above).

    Inside specified ban areas, a blanket ban applies on all sales, marketing and distribution of these prohibited fuels to the general public. There are no circumstances allowing for exceptions. The ban primarily concerns smoky coal but can also apply to certain manufactured fuels. The ban does not apply to turf and wood.

  2. The ban on the use or burning of bituminous or smoky coal by the occupier of a dwelling within specified areas covered by a smoky coal ban.
  3. Only Low Smoke solid fuel is permitted to be marketed, sold or distributed by a person or body within a ban area and the person or body supplying the fuel must ensure that:
    • The fuel is supplied in a sealed bag.
    • The bag contains a notice/label stating the name and [physical] address of the packer of the bag and the following statement 'Low Smoke fuel – contents comply with the Air Pollution Act Regulations' in 2 cm high letters.
    • Records are held showing that the bagged product does not contain bituminous or smoky coal.
    • For bituminous or smoky coal placed on the market for residential use anywhere in the state, outside of a restricted area, the person or body supplying the fuel must ensure that:
      • The coal is supplied in a sealed bag.
      • The coal has a sulphur content of less than 0.7% by weight and records are held identifying the source of the coal and showing that the coal meets the sulphur content requirement.
      • Coal is sourced from only EPA registered suppliers or baggers.
      • Records are held showing that the bagged product has been supplied by a bagging operator with a registration from the EPA.

    Under the solid fuel regulations 2012, there are provisions for a person or body located within a restricted area (e.g. Clonmel) to store bituminous or smoky coal for the purpose of placing on the market, selling or distributing bituminous coal outside of the restricted area, i.e. in areas where the smoky coal ban does not apply. The person or body must keep a register with specific details in this regard, as set out in Schedule 4 of the regulations.
    In addition, there are obligations on a person or body transporting bituminous coal through a restricted area, as follows:

    • Bituminous coal may be transported through a ban area provided the total quantity of bituminous coal is not less than 1 (one) metric tonne at any one time and, the same vehicle is not being used at the same time for the sale or distribution of any other fuels.
    • The vehicle owner or operator must have on the vehicle records of the quantity of each type of fuel being carried, name and address of the person or body who supplied the fuel, details regarding the destination(s) of the fuel, and the name and address of person(s) purchasing the fuel.

    Low Smoke fuels types
    The solid fuels listed below are permitted to be marketed, sold and distributed in a ban area. The Council envisages that customers may need to consult with their fuel supplier regarding the most suitable Low Smoke fuel types and combinations for their home heating needs and appliances.

    • Low Smoke 'coal' - unblended: Manufactured ovoids or manufactured nuggets or anthracites.
    • Low Smoke 'coal' - blended: Combinations of ovoids/petroleum cokes, nuggets/petroleum cokes and ovoids/ nuggets
    • Peat - loose turf and baled briquettes
    • Wood - kindling, firewood logs, compressed wood/sawdust logs, firestarter logs, etc.

    Smoky coal ban: area of Clonmel
    Click here for Map
    In relation to Clonmel, the ban area defined in the regulations are as follows:

    In County Tipperary:- The Electoral Divisions of:-

    • Clonmel East Urban
    • Clonmel West Urban
    • Clonmel Rural
    • Inishlounaght

    In County Waterford:-
    The Townlands of:-

    Kilmacomma Electoral Division:

    St. Mary's Electoral Division:

    Gurteen Electoral Division:


    Croan Lower

    Tikincor Lower


    Croan Upper

    Tikincor Upper





    Kilgainy Lower



    Kilgainy Upper





















    Scrothea East



    Scrothea West





    Note: Under Section 10 (Enforcement) of the Solid Fuel Regulations, an authorised person may be authorised by more than one Local Authority for the purpose of the enforcement of the Regulations in a Specified Area than spans more than one functional area.

    “No more smoke from your fire.” - Delivering Cleaner Air to Clonmel
    A ban on the burning, marketing, sale and distribution of “smoky coal” was introduced to Clonmel and its environs from May 1st 2013. The purpose of this ban is to deliver cleaner air and to reduce air pollution in the larger towns and cities in Ireland. This has been done in many other towns and cities since 1990 when the ban was first introduced to Dublin.

    From 1st May, Coal Retailers and Coal Merchants will not be permitted to market, sell or distribute bituminous (smoky) coal to householders in Clonmel and the wider environs. In addition to this, householders within Clonmel and the wider environs will no longer be allowed to burn bituminous (smoky) coal.

    The sole purpose of the “Smoky Coal” ban is to deliver cleaner air to the Clonmel area. The EPA, in conjunction with the HSE, has monitored the air quality in Clonmel for the past 2 years and the results show an unacceptable number of exceedences of the air quality limits for PM10 which are very fine particles of dust or particulate matter (less than one-hundredth of a millimetre in size). In smaller urban centres such as Clonmel, the main source of PM10 is the emissions resulting from the burning of smoky solid fuels. PM10 is harmful to health owing to its ability to penetrate into the lungs and is associated with cardiopulmonary and respiratory disorders. Put simply, less PM10 means better health and improved air quality.

    The “Smoky Coal” Ban has been in place in Dublin for the past 23 years and has had a dramatic impact on the air quality in the city. Research carried out by Professor Luke Clancy in 2002 has indicated that the smoky coal ban introduced in Dublin in 1990 resulted in major health benefits with up to 350 fewer deaths annually in the city. The Asthma Society has stated “that Ireland has the 4th highest prevalence of asthma worldwide with 470,000 people in Ireland suffering from Asthma. The research published in The Lancet also showed that poor air quality is directly linked to increased risk of death from respiratory and cardiovascular disease.” The Asthma Society state that “people who suffer from respiratory conditions, such as asthma, can be badly affected by exposure to harmful particles in the air which result from pollutants, including the burning of smoky coal.”

    The alternative to burning “Smoky Coal” is to use Low Smoke Fuels including,

    • Low Smoke Coal – bags will be clearly labeled “Low Smoke Fuel”,
    • Wood - kindling, firewood logs, fire starter logs
    • Turf - loose turf and baled briquettes.

    (refer above – ‘Low Smoke fuel types’)

    The new regulations will be enforced by Tipperary County Council. Inspections will be carried out on retailers, coal merchants and coal delivery lorries. Inspections will also be carried out “out of hours” when coal deliveries are most frequent.

    Tipperary County Council encourages members of the public to report instances where the law is being flouted; the result of which will involve enforcement action being taken by Tipperary County Council.

    Registration of coal baggers and suppliers
    Under the solid fuel regulations 2012 and the Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992 (Registration of Coal Baggers and Suppliers) Regulations 2011 there is a requirement for all bagging operators and certain solid fuel suppliers to register with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and to supply to the EPA such information as the EPA requires to fulfil its legislative functions. The requirements as to registration are as follows:

    • Bagging operators must register with the EPA by 1st September each year.
    • Solid fuel suppliers who wholesale or distribute bituminous coal, or who retail 50% or more of their total annual sales proceeds from bituminous coal, for residential use within the state must register with the EPA and renew their registration with the EPA every 2 years thereafter.

    A list of registered solid fuel suppliers is available on the EPA website at the following link:- http://www.epa.ie/pubs/forms/sfs/

    Enforcement and penalties
    The solid fuel regulations 2012 regulations, including provisions relating to maximum sulphur content in coal and the smoky coal ban, are being enforced by Tipperary County Council with respect to Co. Tipperary, while the EPA has responsibility with respect to the registration of bagging operators and fuel suppliers.

    Under the Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011, breaches of regulations made under the Air Pollution Act, 1987, may lead to significant fines, if successfully prosecuted in court of:

    • €5,000 on summary conviction.
    • €500,000 on conviction by indictment.

    Also fixed penalty notices or 'on-the-spot fines' up to a maximum of €1,000 can be issued to any person or body who breaches the solid fuel regulations 2012.

    Further information

    • Solid Fuel Regulations (S.I. No. 326 of 2012)
    • EPA Act 1992 (Registration of Coal Baggers and Suppliers) Regulations 2011
    • Dept of the Environment – Smoky Coal Ban
    • FAQs – Householder/ Retailers

    For fuel supplier or bagging operator registration queries contact the EPA;
    Solid Fuel Suppliers Registration
    Office of Climate, Licensing and Resource Use
    Environmental Protection Agency
    Johnstown Castle Estate
    P.O Box 3000

    Tel: (053) 9160600
    Fax: (053) 916 0699
    Email: FuelRegistration@epa.ie

    For further queries on the Solid Fuel Regulations and the Smoky Coal ban contact Tipperary County Council:
    Tipperary County Council, Civic Offices, Clonmel and Civic Offices Nenagh, Co. Tipperary.
    t: 0818 06 5000

    Related Content

    Related FAQs

    Does a smoky coal ban apply in Tipperary?

    At present ban on sale\burning of bituminous coal only applies to Clonmel.