Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Boilers and furnaces: environmental authorisations

Energy and steam generation

Energy can be generated on site using gas, oil or by-products and waste as fuel. If you produce energy or steam on your site and you have a generator, furnace or boiler with a rated thermal input above the threshold levels, you will require a permit from your environmental regulator.

What you must do

In Northern Ireland

You need a Part A pollution prevention and control (PPC) permit for appliances with a rated thermal input of 50 megawatts (MW) or more burning fuels (including those that have passed the NIEA's end-of-waste test).

You need a Part C PPC permit for appliances with a rated thermal input of 20 to 50MW burning fuels, or a combination of appliances which when added together, have a net rated thermal input exceeding 20 megawatts but less than a rated thermal input of 50 megawatts. This includes those that have passed the NIEA's end-of-waste test.

Part A is regulated by the NIEA and Part C by your district council.

In Scotland

You need a Part A pollution prevention and control (PPC) permit for:

  • appliances with a rated thermal input of 50 megawatts (MW) or more
  • appliances burning waste oil, recovered oil or fuel manufactured from waste.

You need a Part B PPC permit for:

  • new appliances with a rated thermal input of 1 to 20 megawatts (from 20/12/2018)
  • appliances with a rated thermal input of 20 to 50MW
  • appliances burning waste excluded from the Waste Incineration Directive (WID) with a rated thermal input of 0.4 to 3MW.

Existing appliances with a rated thermal input of between 1 and 20 megawatts with have to obtain a PPC Part B permit by:

  • 1 Jan 2024 for appliances with a rated thermal input of between 5 and 20 megawatts
  • 1 Jan 2019 for appliances with a rated thermal input of between 1 and 5 megawatts
  • appliances burning waste excluded from the Waste Incineration Directive (WID) with a rated thermal input of 0.4 to 3MW.

SEPA: Medium Combustion Plant

PPC Permits are regulated by SEPA.

Permits for burning waste

Most waste burning activities are covered by the WID. If you burn solid or liquid waste in your furnace or boiler you will usually require a WID-compliant Part A PPC permit. See our guideline: Waste incineration.

Permit conditions

If you have a permit it will have conditions that control emissions from your boiler or furnace. You must comply with all of the conditions in your permit. Your permit may contain conditions for levels of noise, vibration, odour, dust and smoke emissions.

PPC Permits

Installing furnaces

Your district council must approve your plans and specifications before you can use a new furnace (except a domestic furnace) in a building, fixed boiler or industrial plant, or if you make changes to an existing furnace.

Talk to your local council about grit and dust arrestment if you do not have a PPC permit and your furnace is going to be used to burn:

  • pulverised fuel
  • any other solid matter at a rate of 45.4 kilograms or more an hour
  • liquid or gaseous matter at a rate equivalent to 366.4 kilowatts or more.

If you install a new furnace, it must be able to operate continuously without emitting smoke when burning the type of fuel it has been designed to use. Planning permission or a building warrant from your local council is not sufficient for you to construct a chimney or plant.

Find your local council

Smoke Control Area restrictions

If you are in a Smoke Control Area, you can only use authorised fuels or exempted furnaces or boilers. In such areas, the emission of any smoke at any time from a chimney is an offence, with only a few exceptions. You could be fined £1,000 for each offence.

Northern Ireland: DOE: Smoke control areas

Scotland: Scottish Air Quality: Smoke control areas

Burning of biomass

If you wish to install a combustion appliance that burns biomass (most commonly wood and including wood pellets), such as domestic wood burning stoves or bigger combined heat and power plant, you need to take a number of issues into consideration:

  • Is your business located within an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA)? The local council can advise if the is an AQMA in your area. There are restrictions on operating biomass plants within AQMAs and in such cases you should contact the NIEA or  your local SEPA office.

Contact your environmental regulator

  • Smoke and odours from a wood burner can generate complaints from local residents - therefore, the design should ensure emissions will not affect local properties.
  • Delivery of fuel may lead to increase vehicle movements, which can cause air quality, noise and nuisance problems.
  • Correct storage of wood fuel is important as it can affect the performance of the boiler.
  • The burning waste material may require a permit or an exemption from your environmental regulator.

Environmental Protection UK: Biomass and air quality guidance (PDF, 858K)

Sulphur content of fuel limits

You must not use gas oils with a sulphur content higher than 0.1 per cent by weight.

You must not use heavy fuel oils with a sulphur content higher than 1 per cent by weight. This does not apply if your plant came into operation after 1 July 1987 and you hold a PPC permit that contains conditions limiting sulphur dioxide emissions.

If you operate a pre-1987 combustion plant and you do not require a permit, you can either limit the sulphur content of your fuel to the 1 per cent limit or you must apply for a sulphur content of liquid fuels permit from:

  • In Northern Ireland: from the NIEA
  • In Scotland: from SEPA.

Chimney and emission requirements

You must meet any chimney and emission requirements that your local council applies to your furnace or boiler. See the page in this guideline: Boilers and furnaces: chimney and emission limits.

Further information

Environmental Protection UK: Air pollution sources

Environmental Protection UK: Biomass and air quality guidance

Defra: Air quality

Scottish Government: Pollutant information

Find your local council

Contact your environmental regulator

Return to preventing air pollution home page

Whats new on NetRegs

  • Waste – Duty of Care Roles and Responsibilities

    The Northern Ireland Environment Agency has published a short guide to the duty of care responsibilities including advice and information for waste producers, carriers and those accepting, storing and treating waste.

    https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/publications/waste-duty-care-responsibilities

  • NetRegs:- FREE, ANONYMOUS, PLAIN ENGLISH GUIDANCE FOR BUSINESSES

  • EIA (Agriculture) Regulations for Northern Ireland

    Any person intending to alter the use or management of areas of uncultivated or semi-natural land must obtain prior approval from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).

    Read more on the DAERA website

  • Guidance from your environmental regulator

    Regulator logos

  • 9 NEW GPPs (Guidance for Pollution Prevention) available now

    The NetRegs team at SEPA, in partnership with The Northern Ireland Environment Agency, Natural Resources Wales and a number of industry bodies have produced 9 new GPPs to replace out of date PPGs. More are coming! Check the available topics

  • New guidance

    New guidance for Start-ups, charities and community projects

    http://www.netregs.org.uk/environmental-topics/environmental-management/first-steps-guidance-for-new-starts-projects-and-charities/

NetRegs on NetRegs on youTube

View our latest videos & subscribe to our channel.

NetRegs Update Newsletter

Free monthly email newsletter with environmental updates for Northern Ireland and Scotland

Sign up for free today!

Permits

NIEA - Apply online

SEPA - Application forms