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Air Pollution

 New Solid Fuel Regulations


The Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan, has signed the new Solid Fuel Regulations for Ireland, which commenced on 31 October 2022.


The primary focus of these regulations is on improving air quality and improving people’s health chances and outcomes, by restricting the retail, online and commercial sale of smoky fuels, including smoky coal, turf and wet wood. These fuels are proven to be a major contributor to air pollution in Ireland.


Some of the changes that now apply are:


  • Coal products and manufactured solid fuels must have a smoke emission rate of less than 10 grams per hour – this is the same as was previously in force in low smoke zones
  • Manufactured part biomass products must have a smoke emission rate of less than 5 grams per hour
  • Coal products and manufactured solid fuels, including manufactured part biomass products, must have a sulphur content of less than 2% by weight on a dry ash-free basis, and subject to a market assessment, from 1 September 2025 this will be reduced to 1%
  • 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% (from 1 September 2025, this will be reduced to less than 20%)
  • Wood logs supplied in units of two cubic metres or more must now be be accompanied by a notice outlining the need to store and season wet wood until it is sufficiently dried
  • It is now not possible to sell turf via retail, online or other media, in public houses or other public places


There are also some changes to the certification and registration process, retailer obligations and other areas. More details on these can be found at These will continue to be updated over the coming months.


Information on the registration process can be found on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website.



Take part in an Online Survey at  for householders, which may be used to gauge patterns and levels of solid fuel use.


How do we know what the level of air pollution is?


The EPA is responsible for monitoring ambient air quality. Real time air quality monitoring is easily accessible via the Air Quality website. Specific links to the air quality monitors in Letterkenny and Buncrana are below. 


Letterkenny Air Monitoring Station Real Time Air Quality results.


Buncrana Air Monitoring Station Real Time Air Quality results 


Why regulate solid fuels?

Burning of solid fuels is a significant contributor to poor local air quality by increasing the amount of fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) and other pollutants in our homes and communities.


The main health effects of air pollution include stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and both chronic and acute respiratory diseases, including asthma. These conditions can lead to sickness and ill health, as well as premature mortality. It is also linked to increases in respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease, dementia and also impacts on the central nervous and reproductive systems.


This demonstrates the extent to which the choices we make when heating our homes can impact on our own health and the communities in which we live.


To improve air quality and reduce the associated health impacts, it is important to reduce the emissions into our air that is produced from domestic burning of solid fuels. This is what the new regulations are designed to do, by ensuring that only higher quality and less polluting fuels will be legally available for sale.


Burning solid fuels releases a pollutant called fine particulate matter (PM2.5). It can trigger asthma attacks and cause a range of other health effects, including:


  • Bronchitis
  • Bronchiolitis
  • Pneumonia
  • COPD
  • Lung cancer
  • Eye, nose, and throat irritation
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Shortness of breath

People with asthma, children, and the elderly are most at risk.


Reducing air pollution to improve health and environmental outcomes is a key element of the Clean Air Strategy which will focus on reducing emissions to protect health. It was also central to the public consultation on these regulations.





Donegal County Council is the enforcement agency for breaches of the Air Pollution Act 1987 (Solid Fuels) Regulations 2022.



Air Pollution Act 1987


The principal national legislation for the prevention and control of air pollution is the Air Pollution Act, 1987 (No. 6 of 1987). This act provides a comprehensive statutory framework for the control of air quality. Other relevant legislation includes;


Air Quality Standards Regulations of 2011 (replacing Air Quality Standards Regulations of 2002)


Marketing, Sale and Distribution of Fuels Regulations, 1998


Local Authorities are empowered under this legislation to licence certain classes of activities. Activities qualifying for an Air Pollution Licence are as listed in Schedule 3 of the 1987 Air Pollution Act. The main activity requiring this type of licensing is quarrying.

Section 26 of the Air Pollution Act 1987, allows Local Authorities to issue statutory Enforcement Notices requiring “measures to be taken to prevent or limit air pollution”.

Section 24 (2) of the 1987 Air Pollution Act states “The occupier of any premises shall not cause or permit an emission from such premises in such a quantity, or in such a manner, as to be a nuisance”.


Solvent Regulations

Air Complaints

Odours from Landspreading

Air Quality



Solvent Regulations


Further information can be found here.


Air Complaints


Air complaints, in the main, relayed to Donegal County Council tend to be related to;


  • the nuisance value of odours, (whether from commercial properties or agricultural activities, e.g. landspreading of slurries),
  • smoke from the open burning of wastes (i.e. backyard burning of wastes).
  • dust from quarrying activities
  • burning of wastes


Donegal County Council expressly prohibits the open burning of commercial / domestic waste, and will act to prevent this occurrence when reported. Proper refuse disposal is via appropriate recycling, composting or refuse collection service, or other licensed / permitted waste disposal facility.



Odours from Landspreading


Donegal County Council acknowledges that landspreading of agricultural slurries is a normal part of agricultural practices, and that some level of odour can be expected from slurry spreading.


All slurry spreading should be carried out in accordance with good practice guidelines as issued by Teagasc, the EPA, and or the Department of Agriculture.



Air Quality in Donegal


Ireland's, and Donegal’s, air quality remains generally good. In this regard we are fortunate to be located on the fringe of Western Europe, with a relatively mild climate and to have an almost continuous movement of clean air over the country The "smog" problem which existed in the 1980s/early 1990s has now been eliminated primarily due to the ban on the marketing, sale and distribution of bituminous coal in certain urban areas. It is now evident that, due mainly to the very significant increase of vehicles on our roads, emissions from the transport sector represent the greatest threat to our air quality.

New and more stringent air quality standards for a number of pollutants have been set by the EU to be achieved by 2005 - 2010 and it is recognised that the standards for PM10 and NOx particularly will be challenging to meet, especially in heavily trafficked urban areas. Recent environmental standards for fuel quality and tighter vehicle emission standards, attained through the introduction and rollout of the National Car Test are interlinked elements of the Government's strategy to reduce transport emissions. These measures will help to ensure that Ireland does attain the requisite standards.

The EPA - Environmental Protection Agency compiles national information on National Air Quality Monitoring, producing an Annual Report on same. More information is available at


The newest data for particulate matter from the Letterkenny station, as of June 2019, can be found here, while data for sulphur dioxide can be found here.

Further information re air quality in general in Ireland is available at 


There are a number of companies in County Donegal that have been issued with Air Pollution Licences, for the operation of industrial plants, by Donegal County Council.

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