SDLP initiative to combat Derry's air pollution

Thu, 01/10/2020 - 11:10 -- Editor

The SDLP has launched a campaign to improve air quality in Derry, which has Northern Ireland’s worst air pollution. 


The party has published a policy paper to launch a campaign to clean-up dangerously bad air quality in Derry, timing it to coincide with a conference organised by the British Heart Foundation Northern Ireland. (See


SDLP energy spokesperson and Foyle MLA Sinead McLaughlin said: 

“I am extremely worried about Derry’s air quality. It is the worst in Northern Ireland and is literally killing large numbers of my constituents. We have to take action and my SDLP colleagues on Derry City and Strabane District Council will be working on this at the local level, while I take it up at the Assembly. 


“Evidence shows that air quality in parts of Derry is as bad as would be expected in steel or aluminium works. This is unacceptable. We have to move towards the use of clean fuels and accelerate the construction and connection of wind turbines and other clean renewable energy sources. The SDLP is committed to the Green New Deal to retrofit homes to improve energy efficiency, which can reduce energy costs, cut pollution and create jobs. It is a win, win, win solution to a very serious crisis in Derry.” 


Research conducted by the SDLP has established that: 

  • Derry has Northern Ireland’s worst air pollution, leading to premature deaths from lung and heart illnesses and contributing to cancers. 

  • Derry had the most areas of any Northern Ireland council district requiring air quality improvement over recent years. 

  • Derry was the only city or town in Northern Ireland listed by the World Health Organization in 2016 found to have exceeded the WHO air pollution limit of 10 micrograms of fine particles per cubic metre. 

  • Derry was one of three monitored sites in Northern Ireland in 2017 to breach the UK target for Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH), a mix of carbons and hydrogen produced from solid fuel burning, oil burning and vehicle emissions. 

  • Benzo[a]pyrene (BaP) emission levels in Derry are higher than in urban areas in Great Britain and in line with those of heavy manufacturing sites, such as aluminium, steel and coke plants. BaP is a highly toxic hydrocarbon released by wood and coal burning and via vehicle emissions. 

  • Derry has a high premature mortality rate, with disproportionately large numbers of deaths from illnesses that are related to air pollution. 

  • Air pollution is a major contributor to Covid-19 mortality.