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Pollution

  • Introduction

    We try to reduce the levels of pollution by enforcing legislation around:

    • noise control 
    • air quality 
    • artificial light nuisance 
    • smoke control
  • Air quality

    We have identified four areas of poor air quality across the city. These are called Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) and they have elevated levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution, caused mainly by road transport.

    These AQMAs are located along:

    • M1 Motorway and Westlink corridor
    • Ormeau Road
    • Upper Newtownards Road, and
    • Cromac Street to Short Strand.

    We are working with a number of partner organisations to develop a new five-year Air Quality Action Plan for Belfast that will address the few remaining nitrogen dioxide hotspots within our AQMAs and improve ambient air quality generally. The Plan aims to support a shift towards more sustainable forms of transport, lower levels of air pollution and achieve the air quality standards for nitrogen dioxide. 

    The Plan includes different air quality and transport planning initiatives, including:

    • sustainable transport
    • improving public transport
    • providing new transport infrastructure
    • introducing cleaner vehicle technologies, and
    • supporting behavioural change.

    We are consulting on the new Air Quality Action Plan from 12 May to 3 August 2021.

    You can view the new draft Air Quality Action Plan (link opens in new window) or email your feedback to envhealth@belfastcity.gov.uk.

    You can also read our previous Air Quality Action plan for 2015 - 2020.

  • Noise control

    For information on noise pollution, visit the noise control section.

  • 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

    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
    • prisons. 

    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.

    Abatement notice

    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.

  • Smoke control

    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 located in the rural periphery of the city, to the southwest, north and the docks area. This is because these areas are mostly either unpopulated or sparsely populated.

    For information on exempt appliances and authorised fuels that can be used within Belfast's smoke control zone, go to:

    There’s more information about smoke control areas on the GOV.UK website (link opens in new window)

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