Planning Portal

New DOE Compliance and Enforcement Statistics Report released

Published on Thu, 14 Nov 2013 by
The DOE Compliance and Enforcement Statistics 2012/13 Annual Statistical Report is published today.
The Department of the Environment (DOE), and its agencies, are responsible for overseeing and administering a wide range of legislation and the regulation of activities related to their business. This role cuts across all aspects of the business but particularly with regard to environmental protection, planning and vehicle regulation. This statistical report will allow the general public an insight into these activities and their outcomes.

The report presents information on selected compliance and enforcement activity in Northern Ireland, covering up to a five year period dependent on data availability. The different types of activity undertaken in this area by NIEA, DOE Planning and DVA are described and any emerging trends highlighted.

This is the first official statistics report covering the DOE’s compliance and enforcement function and will be released on an annual basis in future.

The key points to note in the report are:

  • Compliance with both the Water Utility and Industrial Water Orders has increased by seven and four percentage points respectively over the period since 2008 to stand at 93% and 91% in 2012.
  • The number of Nitrates Directive breaches peaked at 556 in 2011, due to a particular combination of weather events that year, but have since fallen by over a third (37%) to 352 in 2012, more in line with earlier years.
  • The number of Waste Management Enforcement Notices issued has increased by more than seven-fold over the last three years from 14 in 2010/11 to 104 in 2012/13 and can be attributed, in part, to the establishment of a new enforcement team in this area.
  • The number of convictions secured by the Water Management Unit have almost doubled to 63 in 2012/13 from the 2009/10 level of 32. Environmental Crime Unit convictions, on the other hand, have decreased by almost three-quarters (74%) from 46 in 2008/09 to 12 in 2012/13. These figures, however, do not reflect the complexity or size of individual cases which will vary from case to case and between years.

  • The total number of alleged ‘Breaches of Planning Control’ decreased by 30% from 3,690 in 2009/10 to 2,568 in 2011/12, before increasing again by 8% to 2,770 alleged breaches in 2012/13. This trend has been driven by ‘Operational Development’, which accounted for over two fifths (42%) of all breaches investigated during 2012/13.
  • Over the period, prosecutions for planning related offences peaked at 164 in 2009/10, but then decreased by over two fifths (45%) to 91 in 2010/11. Over the last two years, prosecutions have been more stable at 131 and 145 cases taken per year in 2011/12 and 2012/13 respectively.
  • Almost one-third (31%) of all enforcement cases investigated by Planning staff in 2012/13 were closed because ‘No Breach’ was found to have occurred.
  • The fines imposed by the Court in relation to Planning related cases have generally increased over the four year period, from just over £125,000 in 2009/10 to almost £137,000 in 2012/13, a 9% increase.

  • DVA enforcement officers carried out 5,706 vehicle enforcement checks in 2012/13, a fall of 9% on the 6,288 peak level recorded in the previous year.
  • The number of Fixed Penalty Notices issued by DVA staff, following inspection of vehicles at the roadside, more than doubled from 506 in 2011/12 to 1,192 in 2012/13 with the extension of the scheme to cover a wider range of offences. The value of the penalties increased by more than five-fold in the same time period from just over £20,000 to in excess of £110,000 in the latest year.
  • Vehicle related Prosecutions have almost halved (down by 44%) in the last three years from 803 taken in 2010/11 to 448 in 2012/13. This reduction is driven by the DVA policy to now use fixed penalties where available, and appropriate, as an alternative to prosecutions.

Notes to editors:

1. This is the first DOE Compliance and Enforcement Statistics Report to be released as Official Statistics and provides figures up to 2012/13.

2. The data are typically collected by enforcement officers in the course of their duties and are entered onto activity-specific databases. These can then be interrogated and validated in order to produce the summary statistics.

3. It should be noted that a lot of enforcement activity can be quite variable making interpretation of any short-term changes in trend difficult. In addition, any changes may not necessarily be related to the level of offending but can equally reflect a change in resources, the impact of a targeted compliance/enforcement campaign (or its withdrawal), policy and legislative changes, etc.

4. The information contained within this report is primarily used to monitor compliance over time, plan for enforcement staffing requirements, and enhance the delivery of enforcement activities across the full range of the
departmental functions.

5. Electronic copies of the ‘Compliance and Enforcement Statistical Report’ are available at

Hard copies are available free of charge from the:

Department of the Environment, Analytical Services Branch, Department of the Environment, Room 6-10, Clarence Court, Belfast BT2 8GB

Telephone: (028) 90540907

6. All media enquiries should be directed to the DOE Press Office on 028 9025 6058 or for out of office hours, contact the duty press officer on pager 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.
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