We try to reduce the levels of pollution by enforcing legislation around:
- noise control
- air quality
- artificial light nuisance
- smoke control
For information on noise pollution, visit the noise control section.
Along with partner organisations we’ve developed a new Air Quality Action Plan for the city for 2015 – 2020.
In Belfast, we’ve four Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) in places where the air has been affected by pollution, principally nitrogen dioxide (NO²) from road transport.
These are located along:
- Westlink Corridor
- Ormeau Road
- Upper Newtownards Road, and
- from Cromac Street to the Short Strand.
Our previous Air Quality Action Plan delivered improvements to our air quality. However, some parts of the city continue to exceed the European Limit Values for NO², so we developed this new plan with help from our partners. Together we want to promote the use of sustainable methods of transport to achieve compliance with the nitrogen dioxide European Limit Values by 2020.
It's also important that residents play their part in reducing the amount of emissions in the atmosphere in Belfast. You can do this by using sustainable travel where possible. We also encourage drivers not to leave engines running as this can release unnecessary emissions and also attract thieves.
More information about our Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs), progress reports and current pollution levels can be found at www.airqualityni.co.uk and the Belfast Air Quality Action Plan can be downloaded from the following link:
Air quality and land use planning
We have produced a guidance document for developers and consultants planning building work.
These guidelines give technical advice to developers and consultants dealing with planning applications which could have an impact on air quality.
They can help during the planning process and when submitting Air Quality Assessments to us. They outline situations where an assessment may be required and encourage a consistent approach to air quality and planning.
After submission, we may ask for certain amendments to be made to the project, if necessary.
Artificial light nuisance
We can deal with excessive artificial light coming from poorly positioned security lights, garden lights, flood lighting from sports grounds or industrial lighting.
It does not cover:
- airports harbour premises
- railway premises
- bus stations
- public service vehicle operating centre (coach or taxi companies)
- goods vehicles operating centres (distribution houses)
- lighthouses, or
If you are being disturbed by artificial lighting, there are two ways to address it:
Take informal action
Neighbours may not be aware that their external lighting is bothering you and may be happy to meet your requests or make a compromise. Choose a suitable time to discuss the problem and remember to be calm, polite and courteous and to avoid confrontation. You may also feel more comfortable bringing another person with you.
However, if you don't feel able to approach those responsible for the lighting, or have already tried and were unsuccessful, more direct action may be needed and you should contact us.
We'll make an assessment of the lighting. We may ask you to keep a diary recording the dates and times of each disturbance, or to allow our officers into your home to monitor the level of lighting.
If we agree that a nuisance exists or is likely to occur, we can serve the person responsible with an Abatement Notice, asking them to alter or reduce it.
If they don't comply with the notice, we can take the offender to court where they can be fined up to £5,000 (private premises) or up to £20,000 for commercial or industrial premises.
We can also undertake works to ensure compliance with the notice and recover any costs incurred from the person responsible.
Almost all of the Belfast City Council area is described as a smoke control zone. Smoke control zones were created to control the emissions of smoke from homes in the city.
The only parts of Belfast that aren't included are those located in the rural periphery of the city, to the north, west and the docks area. This is because these areas are mostly either unpopulated or sparsely populated.
Here are some useful links to further information on exempt appliances and authorised fuels that can be used within Belfast's smoke control zone.
There’s more information about smoke control areas on the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs website.