Preventing air pollution

Generator, boiler or furnace environmental authorisations

Guide

Energy can be generated on site using gas, oil or by-products and waste as fuel. If you produce energy or steam on your site and you have a generator, furnace or boiler with a rated thermal input above the threshold levels, you need a permit from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) or your local council.

You need a Part A pollution prevention and control (PPC) permit for appliances with a rated thermal input of 50 megawatts (MW) or more burning fuels (including those that have passed the NIEA's end-of-waste test).

You need a Part C PPC permit for appliances with a rated thermal input of 20 to 50MW burning fuels (including those that have passed the NIEA's end-of-waste test).

Part A is regulated by the NIEA and Part C by your local council.

Permits for burning waste

Most waste burning activities are covered by the WID. If you burn solid or liquid waste in your furnace or boiler you will usually require a WID-compliant Part A PPC permit.

Permit conditions

If you have a permit it will have conditions that control emissions from your boiler or furnace. You must comply with all of the conditions in your permit. Your permit may contain conditions for levels of noise, vibration, odour, dust and smoke emissions.

Approval to install furnaces

Your local council must approve your plans and specifications before you can use a new furnace (except a domestic furnace) in a building, fixed boiler or industrial plant, or if you make changes to an existing furnace.

Talk to your local council about grit and dust arrestment if you do not have a PPC permit and your furnace is going to be used to burn:

  • pulverised fuel
  • any other solid matter at a rate of 45.4 kilograms or more an hour
  • liquid or gaseous matter at a rate equivalent to 366.4 kilowatts or more

If you install a new furnace, it must be able to operate continuously without emitting smoke when burning the type of fuel it has been designed to use. Planning permission or a building warrant from your local council is not sufficient for you to construct a chimney or plant.

Smoke Control Area restrictions

If you are in a Smoke Control Area, you can only use authorised fuels or exempted furnaces or boilers. In such areas, the emission of any smoke at any time from a chimney is an offence, with only a few exceptions. You could be fined £1,000 for each offence - find out whether you are in a Smoke Control Area.

Sulphur content of fuel limits

You must not use gas oils with a sulphur content higher than 0.1 per cent by weight.

You must not use heavy fuel oils with a sulphur content higher than 1 per cent by weight. This does not apply if your plant came into operation after 1 July 1987 and you hold a PPC permit that contains conditions limiting sulphur dioxide emissions.

If you operate a pre-1987 combustion plant and you do not require a permit, you can either limit the sulphur content of your fuel to the 1 per cent limit or you must apply for a sulphur content of liquid fuels permit from the Industrial Pollution and Radiochemical Inspectorate (IPRI), which is part of the NIEA.

Chimney and emission requirements

You must meet any chimney and emission requirements that your local council applies to your furnace or boiler.