Minister blows cold air on Limerick council chimney proposal

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Housing Ministeer Darragh O'Brien

THERE are no proposals to amend regulations to obligate building owners to install chimneys or flues in new houses.

This was the response from Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien to a call from Limerick councillors for building regulations to be amended to ensure that all new houses would include the installation of chimney stacks.

At a meeting of the Council last May, Fine Gael councillor Stephen Keary recommended that the local authority write to the Minister for Housing on the matter.

People in rural areas, he said, still depended heavily on fossil fuels and have no alternatives.

Cllr Liam Galvin (FG) supported this call and took the view that in case of emergencies, houses should have chimneys so people can light a fire in the event of a power failure.

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Independent councillor Jerome Scanlan also believed new houses should have chimneys.

“You can’t expect people to sit around wrapped in a duvet all day. Chimneys are needed,” he said.

In a letter to the council this week, Minister O’Brien explained that the Nearly Zero Energy Buildings requirements of the building regulations make it more attractive for builders and homeowners to further incorporate renewable technologies and move away from traditional fossil fuels.

“The Central Statistics Office analysis of Building Energy Rating data demonstrates this shift away from fossil fuels; oil boilers are no longer installed in new dwellings, and heat pumps make up 80 per cent of heating systems in new dwellings, with this percentage growing steadily each year. All new dwellings typically have an A rated Building Energy Rating,” Minister O’Brien explained.

“The implementation of Nearly Zero Energy Buildings through our building regulations will ensure that as we achieve more energy efficient buildings we also build warmer, more comfortable, healthy, sustainable and durable buildings suitable for the Irish climate both today and into the future.

“This will contribute to Ireland’s ambition to provide for a reduction in emission of 51 per cent by 2030,” he added.