Despite being banned in Ireland, smoky coal continues to be brought down from Northern Ireland in substantial quantities representing a loss of millions to the Exchequer

In a concerted effort to raise awareness about the detrimental effects of smoky coal, Solid Fuel Merchants of Ireland (SFMI) is taking a bold step forward with the launch of a powerful visual tool—a compelling poster that vividly highlights the moral responsibility of solid fuel retailers and customers to only purchase solid fuel that meet the environmental standards set out in Ireland for the industry.

The association is calling upon its members and partners to showcase the poster in prominent positions on their premises, on their websites, and through their social media channels. By leveraging their combined reach and influence, SFMI aims to rally communities towards embracing cleaner, safer and more sustainable fuel options, while protecting local businesses and local jobs.

Approximately half of the coal used in the country originates from Northern Ireland, representing a substantial portion of the nation’s energy consumption. It is projected that an estimated €100 million worth of coal products will be imported from Northern Ireland into Ireland this year alone. Despite being banned in Ireland, smoky coal continues to be brought down from Northern Ireland in substantial quantities. The recent increase in carbon tax, implemented on May 1st, has increased the cost of a bag of coal by an additional 90 cent, making the product more expensive for customers amid a cost of living crisis.

However, the vast majority of this product does not have the carbon tax and Value Added Tax (VAT) paid and so this represents a significant loss to the Exchequer but also leads to unquestionable safety standards. More alarmingly, a significant majority of these imported products, notably smoky coal, are prohibited for use in the South due to environmental concerns.

Chair of the SFMI, Colin Ahern said “It is imperative that we highlight the harmful consequences associated with the use of smoky coal, which is why we have embarked on this campaign. As responsible retailers, our collective efforts can effect meaningful change and pave the way for cleaner, safer, more sustainable fuel alternatives to be utilised while safeguarding legitimate businesses that our organisation represents.

The large quantities of fuel being illegally imported has placed local fuel merchants in an untenable position, making it challenging to compete with the products arriving from Northern Ireland. If this is not tackled in the short-term this will have obvious ramifications for local businesses and local jobs.
Presently, there is a critical lack of surveillance on the detection and origin of these products, exacerbating the challenge for small family-run businesses in Ireland. In light of these pressing issues, fuel merchants have put forward three recommendations to the authorities, with the foremost being the implementation of a mandatory licensing system for all fuel merchants which would help to curtail the sale of legal fuels. Without such a system in place, control over products originating from the North remains uncertain.”



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