Clean air is essential for health and an important part of protecting the environment
Poor air quality can lead to health conditions, pollution and problems with odour smoke and dust.
The main causes of air pollution are chemicals like sulphur dioxide, lead and carbon monoxide.
In the UK, a National Air Quality Strategy (NAQS) describes the plans drawn up by the Government and devolved administrations to improve and protect ambient air quality in the UK in the medium term. The Strategy establishes the future for ambient air quality policy in the UK to 2005 and beyond. It addresses the following eight pollutants for which objectives have been set:
- Benzene 1,3 - butadiene
- Carbon monoxide (CO)
- Nitrogen dioxide
- Ozone Particles
- Sulphur dioxide (SO2)
You can obtain further information on NAQS at www.airqualityni.co.uk/laqm/district-council-reports
Air quality monitoring in NI is currently carried out by District Councils and the Department of the Environment.
Local Air Quality Management
The Environment (NI) Order 2002 requires each local authority to review air quality periodically. Local authorities have to consider present and likely future air quality and assess whether national air quality objectives are likely to be achieved in time.
In order to do this, a phased approach to local air quality review and assessment was recommended, involving 3 stages – assessment, monitoring and measurement.
The Council has completed all three stages, which involved an initial screening of industrial, transport and other sources of pollutants within Causeway Coast and Glens and more detailed measurements of certain pollutants where required.
Air pollution levels in Causeway Coast and Glens are generally low and the initial screening ruled out the majority of the pollutants from being a problem. However, in 2008 a Progress Report identified that there had been a breach in some areas of the district, namely Main Street, Dungiven for Nitrogen Dioxide.
If pollution levels in an area are likely to or do exceed the objectives, an Air Quality Management Area must be declared and an Air Quality Action Plan must be developed which aims to reduce the level of the pollutant within the affected area by working in partnership with other key agencies and implementing practical steps to achieve improvements.
In November 2008, an Air Quality Management Area was declared for Dungiven. This was due to levels of nitrogen dioxide levels exceeding the objective limits in Main Street and is attributed to road traffic. The Air Quality Action Plan was produced this year for implementation.
General air quality information can be found at:
Smoke Control Zones
The Clean Air (Northern Ireland) Order 1981 enables a District Council to establish a Smoke Control Zone by means of an Order confirmed by the Department. The effect of a Smoke Control Order is to prohibit entirely the emission of smoke from chimneys in the area
Ballysally Estate, Coleraine is designated as a Smoke Control Zone. The Smoke Control Zone was created to control the emissions of smoke from homes in the town due to burning coal. Properties within these zones are only permitted to use authorised smokeless fuels for their heating and cooking appliances.
The occupier of any building in a Smoke Control Area from which smoke is emitted is guilty of an offence under the Clean Air (Northern Ireland) Order 1981 and the Council will investigate any such incidents.
The Clean Air (Northern Ireland) Order 1981 also enables action to be taken for dark smoke emissions from industrial and trade premises and where smoke emitted from chimneys is giving rise to a nuisance.
The Department of The Environment also provides more detail on Smoke Control Zones.