Each year, 1,300 people die prematurely due to air pollution from solid fuel burning, including wood. The practice has come under the spotlight for its role in poor air quality in our towns and villages.
The burning of wet timber in particular can lead to serious particulate emissions that the EPA has said have a major impact on the climate and human health. In 2021, the UK brought in restrictions on the sale of wet wood in a bid to to cut air pollution.
In October 2022, new solid fuel regulations became law. Now, firewood sold in units of two cubic metres or less must have a moisture content below 25% and if sold in greater volumes must come with a notice about the need to dry wood before burning. Local Authorities are tasked with checking with retailers to ensure they comply with the regulations.
The latest EPA report showed that Ireland met its EU air quality legal requirements in 2021 but it failed to meet WHO air quality guideline levels for health the same year - partially as a result of burning of solid fuel in our towns and villages.
HELP US INVESTIGATE
By speaking to experts and using Freedom of Information, we want to examine how the State plans to tackle air pollution from wood fuel burning under the National Clean Air Strategy and investigate how successfully the new regulations are being implemented.
We will speak to experts about the air pollution role of domestic wood burning and the key policy shifts needed to smooth a transition away from solid fuels, while also ensuring that households who have invested in fitting solid fuel stoves are protected, especially those in fuel poverty.
Using national air quality data, we also want to pinpoint the areas of the country where air quality has deteriorated over the past decade and talk to citizens about the impacts on their health.
With powers under the Air Pollution Act to serve notice on home occupiers causing air pollution problems, we also want to examine how councils are tackling the issue at a local level.
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