Belfast Telegraph

Material removed from 'dangerous' bonfire site at Ards electricity substation

By Brett Campbell

A "dangerous" loyalist bonfire that sparked controversy after it was built beside an electricity substation in Co Down has been removed.

The pyre provoked outrage after it first appeared beside Circular Road in Newtownards last Monday.

Strangford MLA Mike Nesbitt was contacted by people living in the area who expressed "serious concerns" and called for the removal of the materials.

"These are residents who have lived in a very settled part of the town for decades and they obviously don't want this on their doorstep," he said.

The former leader of the Ulster Unionist Party said the bonfire is not needed as a long-running community fun day already takes place in the Scrabo Estate.

He too expressed concerns about the location.

"It is right beside an electricity substation and I passed on very real fears to the police, local council, NIE networks and the Housing Executive in the sincere hope that common sense prevails," he said.

Chairman of Scrabo Residents Association David McAlonan said he too has been contacted by concerned residents.

"There has never been one at this location before and many residents have expressed serious concerns about the implications for health and safety.

"We share their concerns and have relayed them to the council and the Housing Executive."

A local resident witnessed the materials being removed by a contractor under police supervision early on Sunday morning.

"I'm glad to see it has been taken away and thankfully without any trouble - it's ridiculous to think you can light a bonfire there," they said.

"Hopefully it doesn't reappear."

A Housing Executive spokesperson said the agency does not approve of bonfires on its land and will always remove materials if it is safe to do so.

"We had been notified of dumping on a site which we own," they added.

"This site is adjacent to a major electricity substation and there are genuine concerns about the danger and distribution that a bonfire here could cause."

PSNI Inspector Ray Shaw said that while the PSNI is not the lead agency on bonfires it works closely with local communities and statutory bodies to address concerns.

He confirmed that police monitored the removal of the bonfire which had been placed "dangerously close" to the electricity substation and street lighting.

Meanwhile, a number of dumping sites have appeared throughout Belfast, including in Mount Vernon and Milltown.

The Housing Executive has erected steel barriers around nearly 100 pallets at the Milltown site after Department for Infrastructure staff were approached and told to stop removing materials.

A Department for Infrastructure spokesperson said last week: "The department is currently liaising with the PSNI and other statutory partners to determine the best way to manage this site."

Belfast Telegraph

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