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Residents question delay as illegal Belfast dump site cleared

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Contractors clearing the dump site in north Belfast yesterday

Contractors clearing the dump site in north Belfast yesterday

Contractors clearing the dump site in north Belfast yesterday

Contractors clearing the dump site in north Belfast yesterday

Contractors clearing the dump site in north Belfast yesterday

Contractors clearing the dump site in north Belfast yesterday

Contractors clearing the dump site in north Belfast yesterday

Residents have welcomed the start of a clear-up operation at an illegal dump in north Belfast, but questioned why it took a protest to make it happen.

Contractors secured by the landowners at Edenderry Mill sent the first lorry loads of rubbish away on Tuesday. It is expected the site will be clear by the end of the week.

Staff from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) also started to clear rubbish from another smaller site on the junction of the Hillview Road and Crumlin Road.

Updating the Assembly on Tuesday, Environment Minister Edwin Poots said the issue was being "robustly investigated" and any relevant information would be passed on to prosecutors.

He also warned offenders risked prosecution and urged courts to impose heavy fines for fly tipping.

"There is a bit of the white van man scenario who has been doing tidying up around people's homes, bits and pieces involved in fly tipping," he said.

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Contractors clearing the dump site in north Belfast yesterday

Contractors clearing the dump site in north Belfast yesterday

Contractors clearing the dump site in north Belfast yesterday

"There may be some people who have set themselves up to handle waste whenever they are not registered waste handlers.

"Due process is what will bring results, by taking these people to court and having them fined and the costs charged to them for the disposal of any materials."

He also questioned why some of Northern Ireland's recycling centres were still not open.

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Contractors clearing the dump site in north Belfast yesterday

Contractors clearing the dump site in north Belfast yesterday

Contractors clearing the dump site in north Belfast yesterday

"Get your act together. Get these recycling centres open and provide the service you are being paid to provide," he said.

Stacey Graham, who protested with other residents at the Crumlin Road on Monday, with some forced to leave their homes due to rats and swarms of flies, welcomed the developments.

"We're really happy that there's been some movement but it's only because people decided to take some actions themselves," she told the Belfast Telegraph.

"The relevant agencies just weren't doing things quickly enough after elected representatives were on to them.

"The main issue now is that there's going to be a serious influx of rats and vermin into the community which needs to be addressed."

She added: "We'll be maintaining a presence here until we know that everything has been completely cleared."

Green Party councillor Mal O'Hara said that Belfast City Council staff had already started sewer baiting in the surrounding streets to prevent vermin from infecting homes.

He also referred to problems with a huge waste site at Mobuoy on the outskirts of Londonderry, where around a million tonnes of waste has been dumped.

"I think for us this shows why we need an independent environmental protection agency," he said. "It's deja vu, we obviously should have learnt from what happened with the Mobuoy dump in Derry. That's why we need an independent agency which can robustly address the issues when people raise them."

A spokesperson for the Department for Agriculture Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) said: "The NIEA is currently investigating the unauthorised disposal and treatment of controlled wastes at Edenderry Industrial Estate, Crumlin Road, Belfast and the unauthorised disposal of controlled wastes at a smaller site adjacent to the junction of Hillview Road/Crumlin Road Belfast. This is an issue involving a range of agencies."

The agency was made aware of the Edenderry site on June 11 and issued a statutory notice to clear the site by July 31.

The spokesperson added: "The Agency has been monitoring the situation and not content with the progress, has now engaged directly with the site landowner, who has informed the Department they have appointed a contractor to commence work immediately on removal of the wastes from the site."

On prosecutions, the spokesperson said investigations were ongoing and would not be appropriate to comment further.

Belfast Telegraph