Air Pollution Act 1987 (Solid Fuels) Regulations 2022
New regulations regarding solid fuels for domestic heating apply across the Republic of Ireland from 31st October 2022. These new regulations affect householders, retailers and those involved in producing or importing solid fuels.
These new Solid Fuel Regulations (SFR, 2022) revoked, and replaced several regulations under the Air Pollution Act 1987 relating to the marketing, sale, distribution and burning of specified fuels and the fixed payment notice regulations.
The SFR, 2022 introduces an outright national ban on the sale and distribution of ‘unapproved’ solid fuels.
The SFR, 2022 does not specifically ban the burning of unapproved solid fuels instead by regulating the production, distribution and sale of approved solid fuels in the country, the objective of the SFR, 2022 is to ensure that only approved solid fuels are available to purchase.
Routine air quality monitoring conducted by the EPA in 2021 highlighted a continued need for action in two key areas negatively impacting air quality in Ireland, namely the burning of solid fuels in homes and transport emission from vehicles in urban areas.
The burning of solid fuels in homes is the largest contributor to particulate matter emissions in the air. Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is the main pollutant of concern in Ireland and PM levels, according to the EPA and are particularly troublesome in built up areas such as villages, towns and cities.
All solid fuels e.g., coal, peat and wood produce fine particulate matter emissions when burned in open fires or stoves. Fine particulate matter in air has the potential to impact negatively on respiratory and cardiovascular health. PM2.5 levels have the potential to be problematic in and near built up areas due to the cumulative effect of multiple sources of the pollutant and the population density, thereby potentially exposing a large number of people to harmful pollutants.
Air Quality monitoring data from 2021 provided by the EPA shows the relationship between the seasons, time of day and resultant PM2.5 concentrations in the air. PM2.5 concentrations typically coincide with the time of day that householders burn solid fuels for either heating or hot water and particularly during the winter months.
Approved solid fuels must be labelled with the words “contents comply with the Air Pollution Act Regulations” and packaging must also include the EPA producer registration number. This is to give the retailer and the householder confidence that the product is an approved fuel. As a transitional measure point of sale information containing the required labelling information can be used for the coming heating season where labels/stickers cannot be attached by the producer.
Some of the changes that will apply when the regulations come into effect include:
- Coal products and manufactured solid fuels must have a smoke emission rate of less than 10 grams per hour.
- Coal products and manufactured solid fuels, must have a sulphur content of less than 2%
- Fuel products which are 100% biomass products including, wood products and wood logs, supplied in units of two cubic metres or less, must have a moisture content of less than 25%.
- Wood logs supplied in units of two cubic metres or more shall be accompanied by a notice outlining the need to store and season wet wood until it is sufficiently dried.
- It will not be possible to sell turf via retail, online or other media, in public houses or other public places. If you currently source turf from family, friends, neighbours outside of the channels mentioned this can continue.
Retailers and merchants will not be permitted to sell unapproved fuels. This means that you should only be able to purchase approved fuels. You may be able to source unapproved fuels outside the State, however it is an offence to transport an unapproved fuel. The packaging of approved solid fuels must be labelled with the words “contents comply with the Air Pollution Act Regulations”, and with the registration number issued to the fuel producer along with details of the product. There will be a transition period where some packaging will not carry the labelling, but the required information should be attached to the product or placed beside the product in the shop.
The ban on burning was removed from the new regulations to allow householders to burn any unapproved fuel they may have in their homes purchased before the regulations come into effect. However, when these are used up, you will no longer be able to legally buy further supplies of unapproved fuels.
Information on the registration process for producers can be found on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website.
Updated FAQ documents are available using this link www.gov.ie/cleanair
Complaints regarding the marketing, sale, and distribution of prohibited fuels or smoky emissions from the use of prohibited fuels should be reported to the Environment Section of Cavan County Council.
Transportation of Solid Fuels
If you are involved in the commercial transport of solid fuels in your vehicles, drivers transporting solid fuels are obliged to ensure that certain documents are carried on their vehicle. Specifically, these documents are:
- A record of the quantity of each type of solid fuel on the vehicle and the name and address of the person or body who supplied the fuel
- A record of the origin and destination or destinations of the solid fuel and the name and address of the person or persons purchasing the fuel, and
- A record demonstrating that the solid fuel is an approved solid fuel, such as an invoice, credit note, dispatch or delivery documents detailing the products purchased from a producer entered on the fuels register which shall include the registration number issued to producer under section of the Act of 1987 in respect of solid fuel being transported.
Failure to carry these documents may lead to prosecution.
Multi-agency roadside inspections take place to ensure compliance. It should also be noted that under SI 529 of 2022 it is an offence to transport unapproved solid fuels. Further information on this matter is available at www.gov.ie/cleanair.
Tel: 049 437 8486
Fax: 049 433 2299