The Environmental Health Department has a varied role in protecting and monitoring local air quality and the environment.
The Council has a duty to carry out a review and assessment of local air quality, to make sure that the national air quality objectives are being achieved.
If air pollution levels in an area are likely to exceed these objectives, an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) must be set up.
The area has two declared AQMAs Newry (Urban Centre) Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) (Annual mean objective for NO2) and Newry (Canal St) Air Quality Management Area (24 hour mean objective for PM10).
The Council monitors air quality at two monitoring stations located at Market Street, Downpatrick and Canal Street, Newry.
You can view the data from these stations by visiting www.airqualityni.co.uk.
The Clean Air (Northern Ireland) Order 1981 enables local Councils to establish 'Smoke Control Areas'.
If you live within a Smoke Control Area it is illegal to burn unauthorised fuels such as household coal, slack, turf or wood. If you wish to light a fire you must:
- only use an authorised appliance in your property that has been exempted from the legislation
- only use an authorised fuel that has passed tests to show they can burn in an open fireplace without producing smoke.
You can download the current list of exempt appliances and approved fuels and view further information about smoke control areas on the following website http://smokecontrol.defra.gov.uk.
The Council also has powers to deal with emission of dark smoke from industrial or trade premises and smoke nuisance to a neighbourhood arising from burning activities at any premises.
There are no laws prohibiting bonfires but there are laws for the nuisance they can cause.
In practice, to be considered a nuisance:
- the problem would have to occur on a regular basis; and
- interfere substantially with your wellbeing, comfort or enjoyment of your property.
If the Council is satisfied that statutory nuisance conditions exist, enforcement action can be taken.