Ministry of Climate wants to ban heating private houses with coal

Chimneys Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The Ministry of Climate wants Tallinn to consider banning the use of coal for heating private houses, but the Tallinn Municipal Utilities Department says that legislation does not currently allow this.

The Ministry of Climate has requested in writing that the Tallinn Public Utilities Board prohibit the use of coal for residential heating. In the letter, the ministry makes reference to complaints from Tallinn, where homeowners are concerned about air pollution resulting from coal heating.

According to the ministry's data, Estonia has approximately 50 coal-fired boilers. However, because these boilers can also be ignited with alternative fuels the extent of this form of heating is difficult to determine.

Meelis Uustal, senior specialist at the Tallinn department of environmental maintenance and administration of the environmental protection, said that the department has received complaints about heating with coal or even shale oil, but current law does not allow municipalities to prohibit it.

"It is difficult for the municipality to fine or sanction. What we are seeing is an extremely high interest in replacing the stove and fireplace with a heat pump — the number of these activities has increased in the last two or three years. At the same time, in some areas, boiler heating will remain in place for years because there are large areas where district heating or gas pipelines are not planned. In these areas, stove heating and heat pumps will be used alongside," Uustal said.

Romario Siimer, head of the Ministry of Climate's outdoor air department, explained that coal-fired boilers have a major environmental impact — releasing nitrogen and sulphur into the atmosphere, which pollute health more than the heat from such combustion is worth.

"We need to look into how this type of heating could be restricted legally. In September, we will offer assistance for furnace replacement — replacement of outdated furnaces, replacement of boiler systems and heat pumps," Siimer said.

Air pollution standards have been breached due to ongoing road maintenance as well, but these increases are not as dangerous, Uustal said.


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Editor: Mait Ots, Kristina Kersa

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