Council issues advice over air pollution levels
12 December 2022
Derry City and Strabane District Council is reminding the public of what steps they can take to minimise air pollution from their own homes during this period of prolonged colder weather.
The advice was issued today after very high pollution levels were recorded in Northern Ireland over the weekend, particularly in the Strabane and Newtownstewart areas.
Council recognises during the cost of living crisis local people are looking for alternative ways to heat homes and using solid fuel either as a primary or secondary heating source. Unfortunately burning solid fossil fuels can give rise to high pollution levels in the form of particulate matter which can be harmful to our health, especially to anyone with underlying health conditions. Council would encourage those who are burning solid fuels only to use smokeless solid fuel, and also remind the public who live in Smoke Control Areas of Strabane, Castlederg and Newtonstewart, that emitting smoke from their chimneys could result in a fine of up to £1000.
In Smoke Control Areas authorised 'smokeless' fuels are available and exempt appliances exist. Only authorised fuels or fuels officially listed as permitted for each appliance may be used in any exempted fireplace. Using a small quantity of clean, dry kindling to start the fire is permitted but after this only authorised fuel must be used.
Head of Health and Community Wellbeing at Derry City and Strabane District Council, Seamus Donaghy, explained that the aim of Smoke Control Areas is to protect the public.
"When fuels such as coal, wood and turf are burnt, the smoke they emit can contain harmful gases and microscopic particles which can cause damaging health effects," he explained.
"Smoke Control Areas are in place to control domestic particulate emissions from solid fuel burning and protect the public's health and the quality of the air that we all breathe.
"The people most at risk to these harmful effects are the young, the elderly and those with existing heart and respiratory conditions such as asthma and bronchitis. It's therefore important that these control measures are continued in Strabane, Castlederg and Newtownstewart to ensure the public's health is protected."
Officers from the Council's Environmental Health Service will continue to undertake enforcement activities to ensure compliance with smoke controls, which includes monitoring the sale of non-smokeless fuels and the burning of such fuels in domestic and commercial buildings.
Anyone requiring any further information in relation to smoke control should contact the Environmental Health Service of Derry City and Strabane District Council by telephoning the Environment and Neighbourhoods Team on 028 71 253 253.
For real time data on members of the public should visit the following website https://www.airqualityni.co.uk/ . This website also allows an app to be downloaded which will keep you updated about air pollution in Northern Ireland.
To find out if your property is in a Smoke Control Area, visit http://www.derrystrabane.com/ Useful links are also available at the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) website: www.daera-ni.gov.uk/articles/air-pollution#toc-6