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Clampdown on old tyre fires

Tyre companies in Northern Ireland are set to face tighter scrutiny in a bid to tackle the "scourge" of old tyres ending up on bonfires, the Environment Minister has said.

Mark H Durkan told the Assembly the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) was working on a "producer responsibility scheme" for tyre waste.

Mr Durkan was responding to a question from the DUP's Sammy Wilson who insisted more had to be done to prevent rogue companies dumping "tens of thousands of tyres" on bonfires every year.

Mr Wilson suggested firms should be required to keep detailed records of how each tyre removed from a vehicle was disposed of.

"Surely if there is a record of the tyres that have been taken off, there should also be a record of how those tyres have been disposed of," he challenged Mr Durkan.

"Given the fact that around this time of year tens of thousands of tyres are being dumped by companies, who presumably took money from customers, onto bonfires, why can't his agency simply call at tyre companies, check what tyres have been changed, ask where they have been disposed of and, if no reasonable explanation can be given, why can't they be prosecuted for dumping tyres on bonfires?"

Mr Durkan stressed that the issue was a "complex" one.

"My department is working very hard in bringing forward new measures to tackle the scourge of used tyres and the scourge of used tyres being illegally disposed of," he said.

"I can assure Mr Wilson we are working closely with tyre manufacturers at the moment to discuss a best way forward on this. We are working closely with councils. It's timely in regard to today we are close to bonfire season when many tyres that are illegally and wrongly disposed of end up causing huge environmental damage as well as a huge anti-social scourge, which tortures communities across the north."

The minister, appearing during Assembly question time, said as well as consulting with manufacturers, the NIEA was also examining how other jurisdictions, such as the Republic of Ireland, dealt with the illegal dumping of tyres.

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