Belfast Telegraph

Fury as bonfire materials are dumped on new Greenway

By Brett Campbell

Dozens of wood pallets and tyres left stockpiled on the new £40 million Connswater Community Greenway have sparked outrage.

Residents and politicians have demanded urgent action to remove the material destined for a loyalist bonfire in July.

Andy Beavis (47), from the Rosetta area of Belfast, regularly cycles along the Comber Greenway, and has been using the new 9km linear park in the east of the city.

He was left horrified on Thursday afternoon when he discovered the large collection of bonfire material abandoned near the Greenway's Flora Street section.

"It annoyed me that we spend vast amounts of public money on projects like the Connswater Greenway only to have it ruined by this sort of nonsense," he said.

"I appreciate bonfires are part of some people's culture but the council needs to nip this in the bud.

"If action isn't taken, the problem will spread. An alternative site is the answer."

In response to a tweet containing a picture of the eyesore sent by Mr Beavis on Thursday, Belfast City Council said the issue was "complex", and that the burning of tyres was a matter for the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA).

Alliance leader and East Belfast MLA Naomi Long branded the dumped material "an utter disgrace".

But there appears to be confusion over who is responsible for the situation. The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs told the Belfast Telegraph that the NIEA had only been notified about the build-up of tyres yesterday afternoon. It added that while the NIEA was currently investigating the matter - and will take enforcement action where possible - the "lead responsibility for bonfire management rests with local councils and within district council-led multi-agency initiatives"

The Department for Communities said issues relating to management and maintenance of the Greenway were the responsibility of Belfast City Council.

The council described issues pertaining to bonfires as "complex and multifaceted" and said it was not just its responsibility, adding: "We will continue to work with partners and communities to address the issues."

Alliance's David Armitage called for Belfast City Council to remove the "illegal bonfire materials" immediately.

"The Greenway is a positive celebration of all that is best about east Belfast. We have worked hard over the past few months with others to provide a new scheme in the area to prevent situations such as this occurring," he said.

EastSide Partnership, which manages the Greenway, said it was not aware of any plans to remove the material.

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