A new report commissioned by Solid Fuel Merchants Ireland (SFMI) shows that the state is losing up to €15m in taxes to illegal fuel from outside the jurisdiction.

Solid Fuel Merchants Ireland (SFMI), the country’s largest representative body for businesses and retailers engaged in the sale and distribution of solid fuels, has today unveiled new research, compiled by Morley Economic Consulting, “Ireland’s Solid Fuel Merchants – An Economic and Community Impact Analysis.” Among the standout facts contained in the research is that up to one third (33%) of all fuel sold in Ireland is illegal, smoky fuel, emanating from outside the country.

The Report provides a comprehensive analysis of the sector and delves into the multifaceted contributions of the solid fuel industry to Ireland’s economy, communities, and environmental stewardship. The research highlights the positive community impact made by solid fuel merchants across the country, who give back to the very communities that sustain them. Crucially, the report also underscores SFMI’s unwavering commitment to sustainability and innovation amidst evolving market and consumer behavior trends.

The Report findings also sheds light on the concerns of SFMI members regarding the future viability of the sector, particularly in light of challenges posed by the illegal sale of smoky fuels from outside the jurisdiction. Within this dynamic regulatory landscape, SFMI advocates for a level playing field that ensures fair and ethical trading practices so that legitimate retailers, and the people who rely on them for the energy requirements are protected.

Among the Report’s key findings are;

A low-level enforcement of regulations pertaining to illegal fuel sales by local authorities – with just one prosecution to date

Six in every 10 merchants view the current state of their business, and/or sector, negatively.

The need for further funds for local authorities to police the sale of illegal fuel

Until energy security is achieved, households must have a secondary heat source – which underscores the importance of solid fuel merchants in the community

The need for the North South Ministerial Council to push for a smoky coal ban across the island of Ireland in order to prevent the illegal sale of solid fuel

The need for a €25m just transition fund for solid fuel merchants

Chairperson of Solid Fuel Merchants, Colin Ahern stated “SFMI members are united in their serious concern at the low level of enforcement of regulations by local authorities in preventing the sale of illegal fuel. With two jurisdictions on the island of Ireland and a lack of alignment on regulations pertaining to smoky fuel and carbon taxes this has led to a prolific amount of illegal fuel being sold without detection. The fact a legal lacunae indirectly facilitates the sale of illegal fuel from Northern Ireland is far from satisfactory. Politicians and policy-makers need to make this priority if they are serious about making an impact on the environment while safeguarding legitimate fuel merchants.

If left unchecked, the level of illegal trade is likely to continue to trend upwards and this could result in annual losses to the exchequer of upwards of €18 million by 2025, not to mind the serious environmental damage that is being done with product that is below par quality, and more importantly, safety standards.

The absence of a fully regulated EPA licensing requirement is creating fertile ground for illegal traders. To contain this problem we are once again calling for the introduction of an EPA licensing requirement, to ensure the establishment of a national database of approved, legitimate solid fuel retailers.” Mr. Ahern concluded.



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