Westland Bonfire completely illegal says BCC

The huge July 12 bonfire built on land owned by the Fire Authority containing hundreds of tyres on the Westland Road is an illegal bonfire according to the Belfast City Council and the Department of the Environment.
The bonfire, which is currently being built, lies on waste ground to the rear of the Westland Road Fire Station and is owned by the Fire Authority. It is also a stone’s throw away from North and West Housing Association homes which were completed nine months ago.
According to Fire Brigade sub officer Nigel Evans, of Red Watch Westland, they are concerned about the bonfire.
“The bonfire seems to be built well, but the tyres, are illegal. The bonfire seems to be a fair distance away from the houses, and that would be our main concern. The Fire Brigade and Belfast City Council will do all they can to ensure everyone’s safety, and if we receive a complaint we will investigate it fully. And if we receive another one, we will do the same. Bonfires are sensitive issues in the community and we must deal with them as such.”
The staff at Westland Fire Station said they were aware that the bonfire was being built on their land, while John Wilson, Divisional Officer at Eastern Board Headquarters of the Fire Brigade confirmed the Westland Road bonfire was on their land.
He was unable to clarify if permission was sought by the residents for the erection of the bonfire on their land.
At the moment Belfast City Council is currently investigating the possibility of whether they should buy the land back from the Fire Authority.
At a meeting of the councils’ Parks and Amenities Sub Committee on May 11, councillors reminded each other that in 1994 they agreed to give the wasteland behind the fire station to the Fire Authority so they could provide additional car parking and a road traffic training area. At this same meeting councillors were informed that the Fire Authority no longer needed the land and that they wanted to return the land to the council.
The merits of making the bonfire site a multi-sports facility for the Westland Road community was discussed and councillors agreed to undertake a feasibility study investigating this, at a cost of £10,000.
DUP MLA and BCC councillor for the Waterworks wards Nelson McCausland said he had not received any complaints about the bonfire
“It’s a bonfire that I have had no complaints at all about. It seems to be well organised, the material is stacked quite carefully, and very tidily, so it’s not an eyesore.
“Bonfires are problematic and I personally have not received any complaints.”
According to local sources the bonfire makers are getting help to build the bonfire by council workers with forklift trucks and diggers.
A spokesman for BCC said they were not allowed to go on private land unless invited.
“The Fire Brigade must have requested help from us, if indeed this is the case. It may very well be a contractor employed with us, but we would not go in, unless we were asked to.
“We don’t help people build bonfires, but on public health grounds we may clear sites or tidy at the request of the relevant land owner. In BCC eyes all bonfires are illegal.”
In a leaflet produced this year by the Department of Environment and Heritage Service they said that no celebratory bonfire is authorised in law.
They further confirmed that the use of tyres is completely illegal.
“The problem is that when they are burnt, or disposed of illegally, they give off toxic fumes which could affect pregnant women, the elderly or asthmatic sufferers.”

Journalist:: Staff Reporter

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