The NIEA and water pollution
Under the terms of the Water (Northern Ireland) Order 1999 and the Control of Pollution (Oil Storage) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2010 - Guidance note for the Oil Storage Regulations can be found here (.PDF 1.14Mb) - the Operations Team is responsible for preventing or minimising the effects of pollution entering our waterways and also managing the risk of a polluting discharge from occuring. It is also responsible for taking action against polluters when necessary. The team is split into three units:
1. Pollution Prevention
The Pollution Prevention team prevents incidents from happening, or minimises the effect of pollution on the environment once an incident has happened. It also has a role in educating the public and industry, offering advice on pollution prevention, and promoting good environmental practices.
2. Pollution Response
If a pollution incident is reported to us or is discovered during our work, the Pollution Response team will find and stop the source of the pollution, identify the polluter and when necessary collect enough evidence to secure a prosecution.
3. Enforcement & Prosecution
In cases where the source of pollution can be traced, the Enforcement and Prosecution team decides on a suitable course of action to take. This may include an enforcement notice, or prosecution, under the Water (Northern Ireland) Order 1999.
Water pollution management
Water pollution management in Northern Ireland has been divided into nine areas. Each of the nine areas is staffed by an Environmental Health (Rivers) Officer (EHRO) or Senior Water Quality Inspector (SWQI) and a number of Water Quality Inspectors (WQIs) who act as field agents on our behalf.
The Fisheries Conservancy Board (FCB) and the Loughs Agency (LA) also carry out pollution investigation and collect evidence on our behalf for use in Water Order prosecution cases.
Remember that it is an offence to cause pollution, either deliberately or accidentally. In addition, to any fine a court may impose, a person found guilty of causing pollution:
- may have to pay for analysis and court costs
- may be liable for the cost of clean-up operations, which can easily run into tens of thousands of pounds
- may have to pay compensation to angling clubs if a fish kill occurs
- finally, the negative publicity accompanying a pollution incident will often damage a company's image due to the public's increasing concern about environmental issues