Local air and river quality, flood risk areas and clean beaches
There are many things you can find out about the environment where you live. You can check how clean your local beach or river is, and local air quality. The 2004 Environmental Information Regulations also give you the right to access environmental information from public bodies.
Local air quality information is collected at a number of monitoring stations across Northern Ireland. Information is available for the following pollutants:
- nitrogen oxides
- sulphur dioxide
- particulate matter
- carbon monoxide
- ground level ozone
Live local air quality information is available on the AirqualityNI website, where you will find currently monitored levels of air pollutants. The levels are given a number on the Air Quality Index from 1 (low levels of pollutant) to 10 (very high levels of pollutant). This helps you to easily see what the air quality is like in your area.
You can also find out what the latest air pollution levels are like and get forecasts for your area by:
- calling freephone 0800 556 677
Your local council may also have its own air quality information. You can also get additional useful information on air quality and its effects on health from the following websites -
- Air pollution and health (health and well-being section)
- Local councils in Northern Ireland (contacts section)
- Environmental Protection UK
- NI Environment Agency - Pollution
- UK-AIR: Air Information Resource
The Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) monitors river quality at over 540 sites in Northern Ireland, covering 5,500km. Lakes over 50 hectares in area are also monitored regularly. This monitoring includes chemical and biological indicators of ecological water quality. This information is publicly available to anyone who is interested. Rivers were classified until 2007 under the General Quality Assessment System but this has now been superceded by Water Framework Directive classification, which classifies rivers and lakes on a 5-band quality classification from HIGH to BAD.
River Basin Planning
River basin planning involves everyone who is interested in, or may be affected by, the water environment and the way in which it is managed. The Water Framework Directive requires NIEA to protect the status of water bodies from deterioration, and where necessary and practicable, to restore water bodies to good status.
NIEA would like you to get involved in the planning process for your local river by attending your local catchment stakeholder group meeting.
- NIEA - Implementing the Water Framework Directive 2009-2015
- NIEA - Details of the catchment stakeholder meetings
- NIEA - River Basin Plan Interactive Map
In 2012, NIEA monitored 23 identified bathing waters in Northern Ireland in compliance with the EC Bathing Water Directive. Visual checks are also carried out. Sampling begins at the start of June and finishes in mid September. Throughout the summer 20 samples are taken at "key stations" in each bathing water.
The quality of bathing waters in NI is generally 'good' or 'excellent' as defined by the EC Bathing Water Directive. The water quality is based on the level of indicator bacteria which are total coliforms, faecal coliforms and faecal streptococci. 22 of Northern Ireland's 23 identified bathing waters achieved the mandatory standards of the EC Bathing Water Directive in 2012, with 16 of the 23 bathing waters achieving the tighter 'excellent' water quality standard .
Beaches with 'excellent' water quality may be eligible for the Blue Flag award, although this also evaluates beach management and facilities such as litter collection, toilets, car parking, disability access and life-saving equipment. This award scheme is administered in Northern Ireland by Tidy Northern Ireland, along with the Green Coast and Seaside award schemes. Water quality data is supplied by the NIEA.
- NIEA - Bathing Waters in Northern Ireland
- TidyNorthernIreland - Find out if a beach has the Blue Flag Award
When a flood emergency occurs it is important to know who to contact for assistance. It is also useful to know of measures that can help to reduce the impact of flooding on your home or business and provide guidance on health precautions that should be taken.
- Rivers Agency - Download the flooding information leaflet (PDF 1.47 MB)
- Rivers Agency - strategic flood map
- Flooding in your area (property and housing section)
- Help with PDF files