Air Pollution Control

The legislation and regulations governing air quality in Ireland are as follows:

  • Air Pollution Act, 1987
  • Air Quality Standards Regulations of 2002.
  • The Marketing, Sale and Distribution of Fuels Regulations, 1998.
  • Air Pollution Act (Marketing, Sale, Distribution and Burning of Specified Fuels) Regulations 2012 (S.I. No. 326 of 2012).

Air Pollution Licences

Local Authorities are empowered under this legislation to licence certain classes of activities which may give rise to air emissions. Activities qualifying for an Air Pollution Licence are as listed in Schedule 3 of the 1987 Air Pollution Act, and it is the responsibility of the Local Authority to control and condition such activities.

Odours from Landspreading

Roscommon County Council acknowledges that landspreading of agricultural slurries is a normal part of agricultural practices, and that some level of odour can be expected from slurry spreading. All slurry spreading should be carried out in accordance with good practice guidelines as issued by Teagasc, the EPA, and/or the Department of Agriculture.

Burning of Wastes

The term Backyard Burning is applied to the uncontrolled burning of waste. Such burning is frequently carried out in backyards and in gardens, but the term also refers to the burning of any waste in open fires, ranges and other solid fuel appliances or in the open. It includes the burning of waste on sites by builders.

Roscommon County Council expressly prohibits the open burning of commercial/domestic waste, and will act to prevent this occurrence when reported. Proper refuse disposal is via appropriate recycling, composting or refuse collection service, or other licensed/permitted waste disposal facility.

There is a duty on all citizens not to cause air pollution nuisance. The burning of any waste material including household waste is not acceptable and may result in prosecution as a result of (a) nuisance and/or (b) air pollution.

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Bonfires and Halloween

Roscommon County Council wishes to advise the public that the lighting of bonfires at Halloween or on Bonfire Night should be undertaken with great care for health, safety and environmental reasons. Roscommon County Council does not wish to spoil traditions steeped in our history and culture, but must advise the public of the dangers of large bonfires at these times, particularly when they are composed of waste materials.

The traditional bonfires burned wood and straw. Nowadays old tyres and waste materials are used as fuel. In some instances, householders will use the excuse of a bonfire to off-load waste materials. Waste material should not be provided by householders for the purpose of burning in bonfires. Following new regulations, it is now an offence to give your waste to any individual who does not hold a current and valid waste collection permit.

Tyres, in particular, are frequently burned in bonfires. Be aware that they are one of the most polluting materials when burned. The application of chemicals in the manufacturing process makes tyres a very dangerous product once heat is applied. They contain many chemicals, which during burning, produce toxic fumes. The heat of the bonfire does not destroy many of these emissions. They are emitted into the air we breathe. They contaminate the area around the fire and lands over a long range. Once released these toxins will persist for a long time in our environment. Some of the effects may be long-term and cumulative.

Backyard burning of waste including bonfires is illegal under the Air Pollution Act 1987. The Air Pollution Act 1987 obliges us all not to cause or allow emissions in such a quantity, as to be a nuisance or cause air pollution. The Waste Management Act 1996 prohibits the burning of any waste type except in accordance with a permit.

Nowadays we all have greater obligations with regard to our environment. Think before you light a bonfire this year.

Introduction of a Nationwide Low Smoke Zone (LSZ) 

Minister Denis Naughton has announced that, From Autumn 2018, Ireland will be the first country in Europe to introduce a nationwide ban on marketing, sale, distribution and burning of bituminous coal or ‘smoky coal’. 

Currently the ban on the burning of smoky coal and certain other fuels applies in all Low Smoke Zones (LSZs) and complements the ban on the marketing, sale and distribution. The extension of the ban nationwide will have the effect of designating the entire State a LSZ. 

Where householders continue to rely on solid fuel, there is now a range of innovative low smoke solid fuel products, including low smoke coal products, available on the market. Low smoke solid fuel is cleaner and energy-efficient. It can deliver improved air quality and human health benefits.  

Under the Air Pollution Act (Marketing, Sale, Distribution and Burning of Specified Fuels) Regulations 2012 (as amended) all low smoke solid fuel products must be clearly labelled as per the Regulations. This allows householders to make an informed choice about the products they purchase  

Local authority staff may undertake inspections of premises and vehicles being used for the sale and distribution of solid fuel as well as collect samples; the NVDF may be accessed for this purpose  

Fixed payment notices (or ‘on the spot fines’) can be applied by the local authorities for alleged offences relating to the marketing, sale and distribution of prohibited fuels in Low Smoke Zones (LSZs). These fines range from €250 to €1,000 depending on the nature of the offence;  

A local authority may bring a prosecution under the Air Pollution Act for breaches of the Regulations;  

The maximum fine amounts for breaches of the Regulations is €5,000 on summary conviction;  

Further information can be found on the Department’s website at