Northern Ireland Environmental Statistics Report released

Date published: 31 May 2018

The Northern Ireland Environmental Statistics Report has been published today 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. 

Download the Northern Ireland Environmental Statistics Report 2018

The key points are:

Demographics & Public Opinion

  • The level of public concern about environment issues peaked in 2008/09 (at 82%) but has since fallen so that the levels in 2016/17 (69%) are lower than those in 2003/04 (76%).
  • Illegal dumping of waste is the biggest environmental concern for households in Northern Ireland.

Air & Climate

  • In 2016, the mean nitrogen dioxide level for the ten sites used for PfG reporting was 35.5μg/m3. This was 0.1μg/m3 less than the level reported in 2014. Therefore, the nitrogen dioxide indicator in 2016 is considered unchanged since the baseline year. 
  • In 2016, of the ammonia emissions from agriculture, 93% came from livestock and 7% from the application of fertilisers containing nitrogen. Emissions from livestock have increased by 7% between 2001 and 2016 whilst the ammonia emissions from nitrogen fertiliser have declined by 32%. 


  • In 2017 soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP) was measured at 93 surveillance rivers across Northern Ireland, giving an average concentration of 0.066 Mg/l of phosphorus per litre of water. This was 0.007 Mg/l more than the level reported in 2015. Therefore, SRP in river water is considered unchanged since the baseline year for PfG reporting. 
  • Water pollution incidents are investigated by NIEA. In 2016 there were 1,836 incidents reported to NIEA or discovered by NIEA during inspections, of which 1,027 (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.


  • In Northern Ireland levels of winter dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) have been monitored consistently at 24 marine waterbodies since 2012. The levels of winter DIN remained relatively stable between 2012 and 2016. In 2017, winter DIN fell to a low of 20.82µM. This was a 5.6 µM decrease on 2015 levels and therefore a positive change since the baseline year for PfG reporting.
  • Based on data from 2014 to 2017, twelve of the 23 beaches (52%) monitored in Northern Ireland met the ‘excellent’ standard while five beaches (22%) met the ‘good’ standard. A further five beaches (22%) were classified as ‘sufficient’ and one as ‘poor’.


  • Forests and woodlands provide important habitats, natural resources and diversity to landscapes. In 2017/18, 210 hectares of new woodland was created by private landowners supported under the Rural Development Programme. This is up from 208 hectares in 2016/17.
  • Terrestrial litter impacts upon the quality of the local environment. In Northern Ireland, 15% of transects surveyed failed to reach an acceptable standard of cleanliness.


  • In 2016/17 the proportion of land area under favourable management was 0.18%, the same as the proportion reported in 2015/16. Therefore, the proportion of land area under favourable management is considered to be unchanged since the baseline year for PfG reporting. 
  • In 2016/17 the proportion of marine area under favourable management was 4.48%, 11.65 percentage points lower than the proportion reported in 2015/16. Therefore, the proportion of marine area under favourable management is considered to have a negative change since the baseline year for PfG reporting. 

Built Heritage

  • In 2016/17, there were a total of 1,992 scheduled historic monuments protected under Article 3 of the Historic Monuments and Archaeological Objects (NI) Order 1995. Overall there has been a 32% increase in the number of scheduled monuments rising from 1,513 in 2001/02 to 1,992 in 2016/17.
  • 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 8,909 statutory listings in 2016/17, compared with 8,191 in 2003/04.


  • In 2016/17, Northern Ireland’s household recycling rate was 44.4%. This was a 2.4 percentage point increase on the 2014/15 level. Therefore, household waste recycling is considered to have a positive change since the baseline year for PfG reporting. 
  • There were 875,965 tonnes of household waste collected in Northern Ireland in 2016/17, an increase of 1.8% on the amount collected in 2015/16 (860,786 tonnes). Since 2006/07, total household waste arisings in Northern Ireland have fallen by 6.7%.

Notes to editors: 

  1. This is the tenth annual Northern Ireland Environmental Statistics Report. Current and previous reports dating back to 2009 can be accessed from the DAERA website.
  2. There are eight main sections in the report which cover Demographics & Public Opinion; Air & Climate; Water; Marine; Land; Biodiversity; Built Heritage and Waste.
  3. The findings in this report are based on the most recently available data at the time of publication for each indicator, and most provide data on trends over time and, where applicable, performance against quantified targets. The indicators that were included were determined in agreement with key data providers, policy colleagues and other interested parties.
  4. The report was recently consulted upon and more information on this can be found on the DAERA website.
  5. These statistics are released according to the Statement of Compliance with the Pre-release access to Official Statistics Order (NI) 2009. National Statistics meet the highest standards of trustworthiness, quality and public value. They undergo regular quality assurance reviews to ensure that they meet customer needs. They are produced free from any political interference.
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  8. All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office on 028 9052 4619 or via email. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07623 974 383 and your call will be returned.

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