Northern Ireland Environmental Statistics Report released

Date published: 30 May 2019

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

DARD report

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 2019

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 2017/18 (71%) are lower than those when first measured in 2003/04 (76%).
  • Illegal dumping of waste (36%) is the largest environmental concern for households in Northern Ireland followed by pollution in rivers (28%), litter (28%), climate change (27%) and traffic congestion (27%). 

Air & Climate

  • In 2017, the mean nitrogen dioxide level for the ten sites used for Programme for Government (PfG) reporting was 33.4μg/m3. This was 2.1μg/m3 less than the level reported in 2014. Therefore, the nitrogen dioxide indicator in 2017 is considered to have shown a positive change since the baseline year.
  • In 2017, of the ammonia emissions from agriculture, 92% came from livestock and 8% from the application of fertilisers containing nitrogen. Emissions from livestock have increased by 11% between 2001 and 2017 whilst the ammonia emissions from nitrogen fertiliser have declined by 22%. 


  • In 2018 soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP) was measured at 93 surveillance rivers across Northern Ireland giving an average concentration of 0.068 Mg/l of phosphorus per litre of water. This was 0.009 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 2017 there were 1,902 incidents reported to NIEA or discovered by NIEA during inspections, of which 1,028 (54%) were substantiated (confirmed) as having an impact on the water quality of the receiving waterway. Of these, 13% were considered to be of High or Medium Severity.


  • In Northern Ireland levels of winter DIN have been monitored consistently at 24 marine waterbodies since 2012. The levels of winter DIN remained relatively stable between 2012 and 2018. In 2018, winter DIN was recorded at 25.96 µM. This was 0.49 µM less than 2015 levels and therefore is considered as no change on the baseline year for PfG reporting.
  • Based on data from 2015 to 2018, 15 of the 26 beaches (58%) monitored in Northern Ireland met the ‘excellent’ standard while seven beaches (27%) met the ‘good’ standard. A further four beaches (15%) were classified as ‘sufficient’ and no beaches were classified as poor.
  • Coastline survey results show that the majority of litter items observed were made of plastic (71%), with another 11% made of metal and glass along with 1% sanitary waste such as cotton buds and wipes.


  • Forests and woodlands provide important habitats, natural resources and diversity to landscapes. In 2018/19, 238 hectares of new woodland was created by private landowners supported under the Rural Development Programme. This is up from 210 hectares in 2017/18. 
  • Terrestrial litter impacts upon the quality of the local environment. In Northern Ireland, 20% of transects surveyed failed to reach an acceptable standard of cleanliness in 2017/18.


  • In 2017/18 the proportion of land area under favourable management was 0.2%, the same as the proportion reported in 2016/17. The proportion of marine area under favourable management in 2017/18 was 4.5%, again the same as the proportion reported in 2016/17. 
  • The Green Flag Award is a national bench marking standard for parks and green spaces. In 2018/19, 71 parks and green spaces achieved Green Flag Award status, compared with 60 in 2017/18. 

Built Heritage

  • In 2017/18, there were a total of 1,994 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 1,994 in 2017/18.
  • 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 8,916 statutory listings in 2017/18, compared with 8,191 in 2003/04.


  • In 2017/18, Northern Ireland’s household recycling rate was 48.1%. This was a 6.0 percentage point increase on the 2014/15 level. Therefore, household waste recycling is considered to have made a positive change since the baseline year for PfG reporting.
  • There were 874,257 tonnes of household waste collected in Northern Ireland in 2017/18, a small decrease on the amount collected in 2016/17 (875,956 tonnes). Since 2006/07, total household waste arisings in Northern Ireland have fallen by 6.9%.


Notes to editors: 

  1. This is the eleventh 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.
  6. Follow DAERA on Twitter and Facebook.
  7. 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 on 028 9037 8110.

Share this page

Back to top