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23rd June 2006

COAL PRICE INCREASE UNWELCOME

<p>The Consumer Council says the 6.4 per cent average increase in coal prices announced today is a blow to the 42,780 coal users here. Consumers will now pay an extra £1.00 for a bag of housecoal and 50p for a bag of smokeless coal.</p>

While the Consumer Council believes that the 6.4 per cent average rise will mean increased hardship for some, it welcomed the assurance that prices will stay the same for the next 12 months.

Joanne Gamble, Head of Energy at the Consumer Council said: “This is unwelcome news for local consumers.  Although the number of people using coal to heat their homes is dropping, it is still an important fuel for Northern Ireland. 

“We recognise that worldwide demand and increasing freight costs are pushing up the cost of coal and that this increase could have been much higher. But many families on low incomes who depend on coal to heat their homes will find even this increase a burden on the family budget.  However, we do welcome the guarantee from Northern Ireland's largest coal supplier that prices will not go up any more in the next 12 months.”

The Consumer Council is advising consumers to get more for every pound they spend on fuel by being as energy efficient as possible.  Free advice is available from your local energy efficiency advice centre on 0800 512 012.

  1. The Consumer Council is an independent consumer organisation, working to bring about change to benefit Northern Ireland's consumers. The Council campaigns for high standards of service and protection and a fair deal for all. It also carries out research, gives advice and publishes reports and other publications. It deals with individual complaints about electricity, natural gas, coal and passenger transport.

For more information, visit our website at www.gccni.org.uk

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