The 5 Types of Pollution and How Your Council Can Help Reduce Them

Recent research has revealed 40% of Britain’s local authorities breached legal air quality limits in the last four years.* But could you name the main 5 types of pollution, how it affects your local area and how to help reduce it?
The likes of car emissions, fumes from business and littered beaches are just a few factors that contribute to the key areas of pollution; air, water, noise, light and smell. Here are just a few actions your local authority could take to contribute to the bigger picture of keeping the UK clean and green.
Air pollution
The air that your residents breathe should be clean and safe; however air pollution is a key issue for public health, costing the UK economy over £20 billion a year.** The most prominent cause of air pollution results from excess emissions. Your council can help control emissions and promote clean air with the following actions:
o   Reduce transport-related emissions by promoting proper traffic management.
o   Encouraging the use of cleaner vehicles and making public transport more available.
o   Be sure that residents have access to walking and cycling routes to reduce vehicle.
o   Ensure that new or improved developments use energy efficient technology and generate safe emission levels.
o   Your local council and the EA are responsible for granting permits to local organisations that could cause air pollution, such as businesses that work with burning fuel, metals, chemicals or waste. Specifically, your council is responsible for issuing Part B Environmental Permits and Small Waste Incineration Plan Environmental Permitsto organisations that use generators, furnaces or boilers and meet additional fuel burning requirements.
o   Local organisations must have chimneys that are tall enough to prevent smoke, grit, dust, gases or fume emissions from causing a pollution problem. Your council must require organisations to apply for chimney approval if their boiler’s fuel consumption exceeds either 45.4 kilograms of solid fuel an hour or 366.4 kilowatts of liquid gas fuel.***
o   If the air quality falls below national standards, your local council must declare an Air Quality Management Area and make plans for pollution improvements.
Water pollution
Whether it be drinking water, a public beach or public sewage, water pollution can result in serious ramifications for your local council. Control water pollutants with these tips:
o   Require your council’s water company to implement a monitoring process of the water supply to ensure illness, infection, disease-causing bacteria and pollution do not contaminate water.
o   If contamination occurs, communicate with local authorities and inform the public. Under the Private Water Supplies Regulations, local councils act as the regulators for private water supplies and have a number of statutory duties.
o   Ensure that any local organisations that could produce contaminated water have a proper drainage system and possess the correct environmental permit(s) for their business operations. Any contaminated water that leaves an organisation’s premises must enter a foul drain or be removed by a registered waste carrier.
o   Require all local organisations to implement water pollution controls (i.e. regular drain maintenance, correctly labelled manhole covers, effective oil separators and proper waste storage methods) and have an environmental management system in place.
o   Your local council is required to monitor seawater from public beaches between May and September and post water quality results on the beach, online or at your council office.
o   Your council is also responsible for responding to resident complaints regarding litter, oil pollution and dangerous items (i.e. chemicals or explosives) washed ashore. If a body of water is no longer safe for swimming, be sure to provide proper signage.
Noise pollution
Local councils must respond to complaints about noises that qualify as a ‘statutory nuisance’. This means that the noise like music, loud machinery, alarms or pets either unreasonably interferes with the use or enjoyment of a home or premises, or injures one’s health (or is likely to injure health).
If the noise qualifies as a statutory nuisance, your council can serve the offender (either an organisation or individual) with an abatement notice, which requires them to stop or restrict the noise. If the noise is above permitted levels from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. but doesn’t qualify as a statutory nuisance, your council can serve the offender a warning notice that requires them to reduce their noise level.
Light pollution
Light pollution can occur from artificial light nuisances such as security lights, lights from sports facilities, decorative lighting from buildings or landscapes, laser shows or light art. If your local council receives a complaint about an artificial light that qualifies as a statutory nuisance, you can serve the offender with an abatement notice that requires them to stop or restrict the light.
Smell pollution
Smell pollution happens when nuisance smells arise from agricultural practices, sewage issues, poor extraction systems in commercial kitchens, slaughterhouses, paints and solvents, or unplanned spills.
If your local council receives a complaint about a smell that qualifies as a statutory nuisance, you can serve the offender with an abatement notice that requires them to stop or restrict the smell. Keep in mind that the EA controls some smell nuisances with environmental permits. Communicate with the EA before issuing an abatement notice for a smell nuisance to a local facility that possesses an environmental permit.
How is your Council helping to reducing the pollution in the UK? We’d love to hear about any incentives or tips over on Twitter @bhibcouncils.


The content of this article is of general interest and is not intended to apply to specific circumstances. It does not purport to be a comprehensive analysis of all matters relevant to its subject matter. The content should not, therefore, be regarded as constituting legal advice and not be relied upon as such. In relation to any particular problem which they may have, readers are advised to seek specific advice. Further, the law may have changed since first publication and the reader is cautioned accordingly. © 2019 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved


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