A flaming coal fire will be a thing of the past for Navan households from next year as the ban on traditional smoky coal is extended to the town.
Local coal merchants are now gearing up for the change, which will see householders having to change to smokeless coal from next May.
While concern has been expressed that the smokeless fuels will add extra expense to hard-pressed households, it is believed the ban will have significant health benefits for the town - environmental health research has indicated that the ban in Dublin has resulted in up to 350 fewer annual deaths.
Navan is one of seven new towns to which the ban will be extended from next May as part of a major revision of the regulations, which will also see it become an offence to burn traditional coal in the relevant towns.
In the past it was an offence to sell or market smoky coal but under the new regulations it also make it an offence to burn it.
Navan GP, Dr Niall Maguire, said that in cities where the smoky ban has been brought in, there have been health benefits. "It is being done for sound health and environmental reasons and Navan, being in a valley, will benefit more than most," he said.
Navan coal merchant Pearse Newman said local fuel suppliers are well-prepared for the changes as they already stock smokeless fuels.
He said that while the smokeless coal is a little more expensive, it is better value as it burns hotter and more consistently and with less ash.
"At the moment, smokeless coal is €18 a bag, compared to €17 for traditional coal. In the long run, smokeless coal is better value," he said.
Mr Newman said that smokeless coal doesn't give a flame, but glows evenly, and admitted that some people won't like the fact that there isn't a flame.
He pointed out that some of the smokeless products including Cosygloe and Ecobright are manufactured here in Ireland.
He was confident that people would adapt to the new regulations.
Cllr Suzanne Jamal welcomed the announcement and recalled the smog problems in Dublin that existed for many years.
"Over the last few years, a lot of children in this area have been diagnosed with childhood asthma and, therefore, this news must be welcomed in the context of protecting health and the environment," she said.
"At the same time, I am aware of the cost implications, especially for older people, and I hope the government will address heating fuel costs in general," she said.
Environment Minister Phil Hogan announced this week that the ban on traditional or bituminous coal would be revised with the extension of the ban to Greystones, Letterkenny, Mullingar, Navan, Newbridge, Wicklow and Portlaoise, as well as extending the ban in towns already covered to take into consideration new town boundaries.
A prohibition on the burning of bituminous or smoky coal is also being introduced to complement the existing ban on the marketing, sale and distribution.
He said the lead-in period for the seven new towns will allow local authorities and fuel retailers time to familiarise themselves with the new regulatory requirements in preparation for the switch-over to smokeless fuels next May.
The annual digital subscription of the Meath Chronicle is 60% cheaper than an annual postal subscription. Click here to subscribe-it's a great gift.