Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

What you must do to prevent air pollution

Actions you must carry out to prevent air pollution


Several pieces of environmental legislation that control air pollution may apply to your business. This will depend on the type of activities your business carries out and where it is located.

  • If you use a boiler or furnace, check what legal requirements you need to comply with - see the pages in this guideline on Boilers and furnaces: environmental authorisations and Boilers and furnaces: chimney height requirements.
  • If you burn waste, you must have the correct permit, licence or registered waste exemption. See our guideline Waste Incineration.
  • If you use hazardous substances such as solvents, or you carry out certain industrial, intensive, agricultural or waste activities that are likely to cause air pollution, you may require a pollution prevention and control permit. This permit will contain conditions that control your emissions to air. See our guideline Environmental permits and licences - an overview.
  • If you use fluorinated greenhouse gases (or still have equipment containing ozone-depleting substances) such as solvents, refrigerants and foam blowing agents, you must be qualified to use them, handle them appropriately and comply with any phase-out dates that apply. See our guidelines: Ozone depleting substances and F-gases.
  • Emissions from your business must not cause a nuisance to your neighbours. Your local council, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) or Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) can also impose additional requirements that you may need to comply with. See the page in this guideline on Protecting neighbours from air pollution.
  • If you carry out activities covered by the European Union emissions trading system (EU ETS), you must hold a greenhouse gas emissions permit. The main activities include energy activities, combustion installations, iron and steel businesses, mineral oil refineries, the mineral industry, and pulp and paper businesses. See our guideline: EU Emissions Trading System.
  • If your electricity supply is metered by half hourly meters, you may need to participate in the CRC energy efficiency scheme. See our guideline: CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme.
  • If you employ more than 250 people, or you have a turnover greater than 50 million Euros, or your balance sheet is greater than 43 million Euros, then you may need to participate in the Energy Saving Opportunities Scheme (ESOS).
  • You must not cause or allow emissions of dark smoke from your site. There are some exemptions from this requirement, but only if your installation won't cause emissions that could damage health or cause a nuisance. See the page in this guideline on Dark smoke restrictions.
  • You must prevent air quality from damaging the health of staff and visitors.

If you are unsure if legislation applies to your business, you should contact:

  • in Northern Ireland, your district council or the NIEA
  • in Scotland, your local authority or SEPA.


Further information

 GOV.UK: Standards for air quality

 DAERA Northern Ireland: Air quality monitoring, policy and legislation

 Scottish Government: Pollutant information

 Health and Safety Executive: Occupational disease

 Find your local council


In this guideline

Causes and effects of air pollution

Business benefits of improving air quality

What you must do to prevent air pollution

Prevent dark smoke

Boilers and furnaces: environmental authorisations

Boilers and furnaces - chimney height requirements

Burning waste controls

Smoke control areas

Protecting neighbours from air pollution

Measuring and monitoring to reduce air pollution

Air pollution environmental legislation

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