Smoky Coal Ban

The ban on the marketing, sale and distribution of bituminous fuel (or 'smoky coal ban') was first introduced in Dublin in 1990 in response to severe episodes of winter smog that resulted from the widespread use of smoky coal for residential heating. The ban proved effective in reducing smoke and sulphur dioxide levels and was subsequently extended to other areas. The ban now applies in twenty Low Smoke Zones including Waterford City and environs and Clonmel environs.

It was announced by the Minister Denis Naughten that from Autumn 2018, Ireland will be the first country in Europe to introduce a nationwide ban on the marketing, sale, distribution and burning of bituminous coal or "smoky coal". This will be introduced on a phased basis with the importation of 'smoky coal' to cease in 2018 with 12 months for coal distributors to sell off existing stock before a total ban comes into effect in 2019

Benefits of a smoky coal ban include very significant reductions in respiratory problems and indeed mortalities from the effects of burning smoky coal. The original ban in Dublin has been cited widely as a successful policy intervention and has become something of a best practice icon within the international clean air community. In the region of 8,000 lives have been saved in Dublin since the introduction of the smoky coal ban back in 1990. An estimate of these benefits in monetary terms put the value at over 20 million euro.

Ban on burning
A ban on the burning of smoky coal and other prohibited fuels now applies in all Low Smoke Zones to complement the ban on the marketing, sale and distribution. There is a range of innovative low smoke solid fuel products, including low smoke coal products, available on the market. Low smoke solid fuel is cleaner as well as more carbon and heat-efficient and so can deliver climate benefits as well as improved air quality and human health benefits. Under the Regulations all low smoke solid fuel products must be clearly labelled as per the Regulations. This allows householders to make an informed choice concerning the products they purchase.

Complaints regarding the marketing, sale, and distribution and burning of prohibited fuels or smoky emissions from the use of prohibited fuels in Low Smoke Zones should be reported to the Environment Section of Waterford City and County Council by telephone on 0761 10 20 20 or by email at

Authorised local authority staff may undertake inspections of premises and vehicles being used for the sale and distribution of solid fuel as well as collect samples. A local authority may bring a prosecution under the Air Pollution Act for breaches of the Regulations. The maximum fine amounts for breaches of the Regulations is €5,000 euro on summary conviction.

Fixed payment notices (or 'on the spot fines') have been introduced for alleged offences relating to the marketing, sale and distribution of prohibited fuels in specified areas. Persons found to be marketing, selling or distributing prohibited fuels in breach of the Regulations are now liable for a fixed payment notice of between €250 and €1,000 depending on the offence.

Guidelines and Information
Maps of low smoke zones in County Waterford can be viewed below

  • Smokeless Fuel\Low Smoke Zone Waterford City & Environs
  • Smokeless Fuel\Low Smoke Zone Clonmel Environs