Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

Beacons to be used as eco-friendly alternative to Eleventh Night bonfires in Northern Ireland

Beacon burning: an alternative to bonfires
Beacon burning: an alternative to bonfires

A shipment of beacons will be delivered to communities across Northern Ireland today as an alternative to bonfires.

The environmentally friendly, pre-constructed structures are a safer option than the towering Eleventh Night bonfires which have been causing controversy.

One 66ft structure, nicknamed 'the Beast' and constructed of thousands of wooden pallets and tyres, was moved after residents of Newtownabbey's Ballyduff estate demanded action over fears their homes could go up in flames.

The reusable, two-part steel bonfire beacons are up to five metres high and are packed with carbon neutral wood shavings from willow trees. The structure is placed on a bed of sand, protecting surfaces from heat and scorch damage.

The eco-friendly structures are the brainchild of Groundwork Northern Ireland.

The not-for-profit north Belfast organisation, which works in deprived communities, already supplies the structures for events such as Halloween.

"Bonfire beacons provide all communities with an environmentally safe option to enjoy and celebrate their festivals," Gavin Keown from Groundwork Northern Ireland said.

"We've found that communities and organisations regard these new beacons as an attractive addition to festivities.

"Often, the beacon is the biggest conversation point, especially when it arrives pre-packed and ready for the celebrations to begin," he added.

The structures will be used at tomorrow's celebrations in Castlereagh, Ballynahinch, Downpatrick and Newtownards. More than 120 have been delivered across Northern Ireland for events in the last five years.

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