The Rural Independent Group has criticised the government’s climate policies and has labelled the banning of open-fire burning in the home as more “extreme greenwashing”.

In a statement, the group said:

“In the midst of an energy crisis, the Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Greens react by forcing new climate laws, effective September 2022, meaning more costly fuels due to ‘low-smoke zones’ designated for the entire country.

“In effect, this translates into every household being forced to purchase more expensive solid fuels that meet the extreme standards of the Green Party.”

Criticising the government’s “deliberate attack on open fires in Irish homes”, the leader of the Rural Independent Group, Deputy Mattie McGrath, said:

“The government’s ongoing assault on the rural way of life, simply to keep the Greens on side and cling to power, is having a profound impact on all rural communities.”

“Minister Eamon Ryan has been given the power to sign regulations into law by September that will see all traditional coal and other fuel products nationwide – including solid fuel and peat briquettes – banned. Instead, only products that emit less than 10g of smoke per hour when burned can be bought. This is ludicrous and will only elevate the costs associated with all such products.”

“However, it gets even worse. By 2025, these same fuel alternatives will only be allowed to remain on the market if manufacturers can reduce the smoke emitted per hour to 5g, while sulphur content must be halved. This heightens all fuel costs.”

Deputy McGrath said these new regulations will also affect other solid fuels, such as wood sold for heating, as it will require a moisture content of 25% or less.

Turf is also being targetted too, he added, with an outright ban on its cutting and burning also expected in future, according to Deputy McGrath.

“Many counties have a long and proud tradition of cutting turf. Turf continues to be a main source of home heating for many counties, including Offaly, where 38% of households still use turf, compared to urban centres like Dublin where less than 1% use turf for home heating.”

“In Tipperary alone, around 4,000 households use turf for heating purposes, which crystallises how such homes are under attack by this government.”