We seek to safeguard the quality of the environment through effective regulation of activities that have the potential to impact on air, water and land. This involves engagement with businesses and the public to provide information and advice; monitoring, recording, reporting and setting standards for compliance; issuing consents, licences, permits and authorisations and enforcing legislation.
The Industrial Emissions Directive (IED)
Directive 2010/75/EU on industrial emission (integrated pollution prevention and control), known as 'the IED' has been brought into effect by the Pollution Prevention and Control (Industrial Emissions) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2013 ('The Regulations').
The IED is a recast of seven previous European Commission Directives covering industrial emissions. A review of these resulted in the merging of the seven existing Directives to ensure clearer environmental benefits and consistent application of Best Available Techniques (BAT) across Member States are achieved. Greater emphasis on the role of BAT reference documents (BREFs) is encouraged and there is extended scope and provisions on soil and groundwater protection. IED also promotes cost-effectiveness and encourages technological innovation to help deliver greater environmental benefit.
It requires an integrated approach to the permitting of, and ongoing regulation of, scheduled activities and covers a wide range of environmental issues such as noise, energy efficiency, site condition, raw material usage.
Radioactive substances are used in Northern Ireland in medicine (to diagnose and treat disease), scientific research and in industrial processes (eg for measuring the thickness or integrity of materials). Radioactive substances also occur naturally in the environment.
NIEA is responsible for controlling the keeping and use of radioactive material and the disposal of radioactive waste under the Radioactive Substances Act 1993. NIEA also enforces the legislation covering the transport of radioactive material by road and carries out environmental monitoring of the impact of discharges of artificial radionuclides (primarily from nuclear establishments) on the Northern Ireland coastline.
Radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas, can build up in homes and prolonged exposure can increase the risk of lung cancer. NIEA produces radon risk maps of Northern Ireland. We also have an important role to play in the Northern Ireland response should there be an overseas nuclear incident.
The European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS)
As a cap-and-trade system, the European Union Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) sets an emissions cap or limit on the total carbon emissions allowed by all EU ETS operators. The scheme is designed to help achieve greenhouse gas emission reductions from industrial processes in line with the challenging targets set by the European Union to combat climate change.