Clean Neighbourhoods ActThe Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 (often referred to as the Clean Neighbourhoods Act) became law in Northern Ireland on 1 April 2012.
This strengthens some powers which we already have and introduced a number of additional powers which will allow us to deal with environmental offences more effectively.
The act deals with six broad areas:
- flyposting and graffiti
- gating orders
- nuisance vehicles and statutory nuisances (such as rubbish in gardens, artificial lighting or fumes)
- dog control orders
- Download our Clean Neighbourhoods Act fact sheet (PDF - 640KB)
- We are able to issue £80 fines to graffiti and flyposting offenders.
- We can serve Defacement Removal Notices for graffiti and fly posting, placing responsibility on the owners of property in a street (including certain statutory agencies) to remove it.
- We can issue Removal Notices to anyone who is responsible for flyposting or graffiti requesting that they remove the posters or graffiti within in two days. Failure to comply may result in the council removing the flyposters or graffiti and charging the responsible person for their removal.
- Venue owners and event promoters can be held responsible for any flyposting in connection with events that are being promoted in their premises as the council can prosecute for this offence.
- Fines for littering have increased from £50 to £80, (reducing to £60 if paid within 10 days).
- It is an offence to drop litter in lakes, ponds or any watercourse, including drains.
- We can prosecute people who give false details.
- We can issue 'Litter Clearing Notices' to businesses and individuals to make them clear litter from their land.
- If you don't comply with the notice we will fine you £110.
Litter outside businessesWith 'Street Litter Control Notices' we can order shops, restaurants, pubs and take-aways to clear up litter they create in front of their premises. If they do not comply we can issue them with a £110 fine.
- We have powers to restrict the distribution of flyers, hand-outs and pamphlets that can end up as litter.
- We will designate areas of the city where leaflet distribution causes litter and anyone wishing to distribute leaflets in the newly designated areas will have to apply to us for consent to do this.
- The consent will include conditions to control distribution and stop littering.
- Anyone who is caught handing out leaflets in designated areas without consent will receive an £80 fine (reduced to £60 if paid within 10 days) or can be prosecuted.
AlarmsWe now have additional powers to deal with noisy alarms.
We can silence the alarm, and recover the costs from the alarm owner, if:
- it has been sounding for more than 20 minutes continuously or intermittently for more than 1 hour
- it is causing reasonable annoyance to those living or working nearby
- a keyholder for the property cannot be contacted.
If complaints are received about alarms in these areas, and keyholder details are not available, then the owner can be fined.
Night-time noiseOur powers under the Noise Act 1996, which apply to night time noise (11pm to 7am) from residential dwellings, now extend to cover noise from licensed premises.
If the occupier of a residential dwelling does not comply with a noise abatement notice we can now fine them £110 (reducing to £85 if paid within 10days).
We can deal with premises such as entertainment venues that are found committing night-time noise offences. This may result in a £500 fine, prosecution or seizure of sound systems, DJ decks or other noise-making equipment.
Noise in the street
- We can investigate complaints about noise from vehicles, machinery or equipment in the street such as vehicle security alarms or portable generators.
- We can issue an abatement notice on the person responsible, giving a timeframe for them to reduce or stop the noise.
- General traffic noise from vehicles travelling on roads is not covered by this legislation.
- Noise nuisance from any vehicle, machinery and equipment in the street can be fined up to £5,000, except in the case of industrial trade or business premises where the fine can be up to £20,000.
These orders will be subject to approval from the DRD Road Service.
Depending on the resources available to us, we can make our own gating orders, along with the approval of the DRD, and we can:
- install alley-gates on any road, street or back street in the Belfast City Council area
- restrict public access to any road or back street using alley-gates if we think it will help reduce the risks of crime or antisocial behaviour.
In 2010-2011 we committed £500,000 to install gates in streets across the city. This list was determined by councillors to ensure investment across the whole city. Under the Clean Neighbourhoods Act we can issue fixed penalty notices for both abandoned and nuisance vehicles.
Nuisance vehiclesA nuisance vehicle is when a business causes an obstruction by having vehicles on the road. For example if it is:
- making money from selling two or more vehicles within 500m of each other on a road
- carrying out repairs to vehicles on a street.
Abandoned vehiclesIf we are made aware of an abandoned vehicle we will work with police and the Driver Vehicle Agency (DVA) to trace owner of vehicle and decide which action to take.
Abandoned vehicles may be:
- not linked to a current vehicle keeper on the DVAs record
- stationary for a long time
- badly damaged, run down or unroadworthy
- burnt out
- lacking one or more of its number plates
- filled with waste.
Nuisance and abandoned vehiclesUnder the new legislation, if appropriate, we can issue:
- a £200 fixed penalty to the vehicle owner
- a seven day notice to remove the vehicle, after which we can remove and dispose of it.
- prohibit dog fouling
- make it an offence to allow your dog off its lead in designated areas
- exclude dogs from designated areas
- limit the number of dogs that one person can be in control of at any one time.