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'Ridiculous' wood fire ban attacked

Environment minister says Ile-de-France ban from January 1 was 'absurd' and would be overturned

A PROPOSED ban on open fires at homes in the Paris suburbs has been described as "ridiculous" by France's own environment minister.

Ségolène Royal said she would overturn the order, issued by the Ile-de-France regional council, which applies to 430 communes in the departments surrounding the French capital.

The ban, which is due to come into force on January 1, would have affected an estimated 125,000 homes and applied to all fires except enclosed wood fireplace inserts, which lose less energy through the chimney. The centre of Paris already has a ban on fires.

Ms Royal said she was "very surprised" by the move - and some of the statistics used to back up the ban, which claimed chimney smoke was more polluting than diesel cars.

She said the new measures would have endangered the renewable energy sector, and that many wood-burning stoves on the market were very energy-efficient.

She also said the ban would have been almost impossible to enforce, adding: "It seems excessive. I want people to become more aware of pollution but this decision was a bit absurd, even if it was well-intentioned."

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