UNSCRUPULOUS rogue operators in Kilkenny are openly flaunting the city’s ban on the sale of bituminous ‘smoky’ coal undermining legitimate traders, it was alleged at the monthly meeting of Kilkenny Borough Council on Monday night.
Cllr Joe Malone (Fianna Fáil) claimed that some illegal operators had exploited the downturn in the economy by selling imported coal, mostly sourced from Poland, from trucks on the sides of roads leading into the city. The coal being sold was cheaper than the market value of the legitimate smokeless coal, and was undercutting legitimate local traders, he said.
Cllr Malone said that these traders were pouncing on the vulnerable and uninformed, who might be deceived into buying the coal without realising that it was of the variety banned by the Council.
He also explained that while legitimate local traders were required to seek proof of address before selling ‘smoky’ coal to residents from outside the city, sellers on roadsides were not doing so, and were happily supplying the banned coal to city residents, despite the embargo on selling such products within the city.
His motion to condemn such practices were supported by party colleagues Cllrs Andrew McGuinness and John Coonan. Cllr McGuinness condemned those who knowingly engaged in the sale of bituminous coal, commenting that he had seen some people openly advertising the sale of imported coal, in open violation of the ban. Cllr Coonan encouraged local residents who encountered local traders openly flouting the ban in such ways to confront them about the legality of their actions.
Cllr Seán Ó hArgáin (Labour) said there was an important environmental and public health impact to the city’s ban on smoky coals. He appealed to legitimate local suppliers to continue to abide by the ban, and asked the Borough Council to liaise with the Environmental Section of Kilkenny County Council in ensuring that banned products were not being sold in the city.
Town Clerk, Brian Tyrrell, clarified that it was the role of the Borough Council to supervise the stocking of local fuel suppliers and said that, having researched the matter, he believed it to be an offence to sell smoky coal to people resident within the city boundaries, but not to burn the coal itself.
The motion was carried unanimously.