Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Protecting neighbours from air pollution

Prevent nuisances

Any emissions you cause that affect your neighbours' use and enjoyment of their premises could be a nuisance. For example, if your business is in a residential area and your processes emit dust and fumes, your neighbours have the right to complain. Statutory nuisances from air pollution include:

  • dust
  • fumes
  • odour
  • smoke
  • gases.

If you cause but fail to deal with a nuisance problem you could face legal action and/or a fine. Your local council or environmental regulator could restrict or stop your business activities.

The best way to avoid legal action is to not create a nuisance in the first place. You can achieve this by maintaining equipment properly, monitoring your emissions so you can detect potential problems as soon as possible and keeping your neighbours informed of changes. See the page in this guideline on Checking and controlling air pollution.

See also Noise, odour and other nuisances.

Local council controls

Local councils monitor air quality. If air quality fails to meet the required standards, they must declare an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) and set out a plan for making improvements.

If your business is in an AQMA, you could be affected by:

  • the introduction of road charging
  • parking restraints
  • increased restrictions on waiting and loading times
  • taxes to encourage moving freight by rail rather than road
  • the review of planning applications by a pollution control team.

Northern Ireland: DOE Air quality management areas

Scottish Air Quality: Air quality management areas

Your local council can also declare a Smoke Control Area, which means that you can use only 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 up to £1,000 for each offence.

If you are a contractor and work at different locations you should check with the local council in each of these locations about their Smoke Control Areas.

Northern Ireland Air: Smoke control areas

Scotland: Scottish Air Quality: Smoke control areas

Further information

Noise, odour and other nuisances.

Contact your environmental regulator

In this guideline:

Causes and effects of air pollution

Business benefits of improving air quality

What you must do to prevent air pollution

Improve air quality: prevent dark smoke

Boilers and furnaces: environmental authorisations

Boilers and furnaces - chimney height requirements

Prevent nuisances: protect neighbours

Measuring and monitoring to reduce air pollution

Air pollution environmental legislation

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