Ireland takes cautious step away from coal

Voluntary agreement on lower sulphur levels replaces plan for nationwide prohibition

The Irish government has signed a voluntary agreement with industry to cut sulphur levels in bituminous coal and petroleum coke. Announced yesterday, the move marks a reversal of the government's previous intention to introduce a nationwide ban on both fuels because of their contribution to sulphur emissions (EED 18/10/01).

Under the agreement, a maximum sulphur limit of 0.7% will apply to bituminous coal from 1 August, while maximum sulphur content in petcoke will be pegged at 2.9% at the same time, falling to 2% by January 2005. Meanwhile, prohibition on burning of bituminous coal will be extended from ten urban areas currently to 14 by 1 October 2003.

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