Warning of prosecutions after illegal dumping at Belfast bonfire site
THE Environment Agency has confirmed it has removed asbestos from the site of a loyalist bonfire in west Belfast, and has said it will "pursue enforcement action" against those involved.
It follows a spate of fly-tipping incidents on the land at Lanark Way, off the Shankill Road.
Household waste, including out of date meat and soiled nappies, has been dumped at the site over the course of the past month.
A spokesman for the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs said: "NIEA can confirm that it has removed a quantity of mixed waste and asbestos for proper disposal from the site in the first week of June at the request of both Belfast City Council and local residents.
"NIEA is currently investigating the illegal flytipping at Lanark Way, and where evidence is available will pursue enforcement action."
The department said that the NIEA works with other agencies and councils to address illegal dumping at bonfires and is currently involved in tackling the issue at Lanark Way.
Letters and bank statements containing names and addresses have also been dumped at the site, which could provide potential evidence for any future prosecutions.
In January The Irish News reported that there hadn't been a single prosecution for fly-tipping in the north in the past year, despite 118 dumping cases.
DUP councillor Frank McCoubrey said the situation at Lanark Way had improved since earlier in the month and claimed the material was "left there using a yellow tipper lorry with a cage on it."
He said: "Earlier this month there were incidents of fly tipping on Lanark Way where asbestos, fridges, kitchen rubbish and items which identified a particular house were all dumped.
"I worked with statutory agencies to secure a clean-up of the area but it is simply not acceptable that such dangerous materials should be dumped anywhere."
Mr McCoubrey added: "The collection of material for bonfires is not an excuse to dump general rubbish, and particularly not items which could be potentially dangerous to those who would come in contact with it."
A Belfast City Council spokeswoman said: "The land in question is owned privately. We are aware of illegal dumping at this site and are working co-operatively with partners to alleviate the situation."
The Housing Executive described the mess as "disgraceful".
A spokesman said: "We own a small piece of land on this wider waste ground area, which is in private ownership - asbestos has not been dumped on our land.
The spokesman added: "We took immediate steps to remove household debris from our portion of the land and we are working closely with the council, the landowner and the PSNI to resolve this issue. Bollards are already in place to discourage access to our portion of this land."