Northern Ireland Environmental Statistics Report released

The Northern Ireland Environmental Statistics Report has been published by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.

This statistical report is produced annually and contains information on a range of environmental indicators in Northern Ireland.

The key points are:

Demographics and public opinion

  • The level of public concern for the environment had been increasing, peaking in 2008/09 (at 82%) but has since fallen so that the levels in 2015/16 (68%) are lower than those in 2003/04 (76%).
  • Illegal dumping of waste is the biggest environmental concern for households in Northern Ireland.

Air and climate

  • In 2015/16, 1,987 GWh of electricity in Northern Ireland was generated from indigenous renewable sources. This was equivalent to 25.5% of total electricity consumption in that period

Water

  • Industrial discharge quality has improved in recent years with compliance rates in 2015 of 75% and 95% for private sewage and trade effluent respectively.
  • Water pollution incidents are investigated by NIEA. In 2015 there were 1,745 incidents reported to NIEA or discovered by NIEA during inspections, of which 978 (56%) were substantiated (confirmed) as having an impact on the water quality of the receiving waterway. Of these 14% were considered to be of High or Medium Severity.

Marine

  • Based on 2013 –2016 data, 11 of the 23 beaches (48%) monitored in Northern Ireland met the ‘excellent’ standard while nine beaches (39%) met the ‘good’ standard. Two beaches (9%) were classified as ‘sufficient’ and one as ‘poor’.
  • Two out of nine designated shellfish water protected areas (SWPAs) complying with the Water Framework Directive guideline E.Coli standard in Shellfish Flesh in 2016.

Land

  • Forests and woodlands provide important habitats, natural resources and diversity to landscapes. In 2016/17, 208 hectares of new woodland was created by private landowners supported under the Rural Development Programme. This is up from 54 hectares in 2015/16.

Biodiversity

  • Over 1,000 features on Areas of Special Scientific Interest (ASSIs) have been assessed, with 64% of the features in favourable condition, down from 68% in 2015, and 33% of features in unfavourable condition, up from 30% in 2015.
  • Bird populations are considered to be a good indicator of the broad state of the wildlife and the countryside. Between 1994 and 2015, the wild bird population has increased by 62%, however it should be noted that the underlying bird populations are not all increasing.
  • Between 1994/95 and 2014/15 the total wetland bird population is estimated to have decreased by 22%.

Built Heritage

  • Listed buildings are those of special architectural or historic interest, and provide an indication of the extent of this historical architectural resource. There has been a modest increase in the number of buildings listed in recent years with a total of 8,774 statutory listings in 2015/16, compared with 8,191 in 2003/04.

Waste

  • In Northern Ireland, the total amount of LAC municipal waste arisings has declined by 8.9% between 2006/07 and 2015/16.
  • In 2015/16, 42.2% of household waste was sent for recycling (including reuse and composting) and 41.8% of LAC municipal waste was sent for recycling (including reuse and composting).