Fianna Fáil TD for Wexford, James Browne, has said the Government are failing to take heed of the numerous warnings from experts and scientists that air pollution in Enniscorthy is getting akin to that of New Delhi in India.
Deputy Browne has renewed his call for a nationwide smoky coal ban following a leaked report of research carried out by the HSE and EPA which establishes a link between poor air quality and increasing hospital admissions for respiratory and cardiovascular illness.
Deputy Browne further said the fact that authorities in New Delhi have declared a public health emergency, shutting down schools and many workplaces, as a result of their toxic air pollution, should serve as a wake-up call to the Government to implement a nationwide smoky coal ban.
He said, “While the situation in New Delhi is at the extreme end of the scale, for a number of years experts in Ireland have warned that air pollution in Enniscorthy, and indeed Gorey and New Ross is regularly exceeding the maximum acceptable levels of toxic air pollution. In Enniscorthy alone air pollution levels in the town have been 10 times over the EU limit.
“A key reason for this is the continued use of smoky coal in the towns. Fianna Fáil has consistently called on the Government to implement a nationwide smoky coal ban. The Government, at the behest of lobbyists for the coal industry, halted a decision on a nationwide ban, despite many promises to do so.
“This lack of backbone will make people sick. Air pollution attacks every cell in the body, it carries carcinogens and causes respiratory problems in all age groups. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a total of 1,500 premature deaths in Ireland are directly attributable each year to poor air quality caused by solid fuel burning.
“I would urge the Government to stop bowing to the pressure of the coal lobbyists. They need to act now, before it gets any worse, and they need to work with coal and solid fuel merchants to ensure that any remaining harmful toxic smoky coal is taken out of circulation entirely”, he concluded.