Blair: Don’t light garden fires

Alliance Environment Spokesperson John Blair MLA has cautioned against lighting fires on private property, due to the unknown impact excess pollution could have on those self-isolating nearby.

With recycling centres closed and people enjoying the better weather, the MLA for South Antrim has raised the issue directly with the Environment Minister, asking guidance to be published as soon as possible.

He said: “It is fantastic to see that the majority of people are taking this situation seriously and staying at home. Yet with that come a number of issues that we have previously never had to deal with – including an increase in people lighting fires in their gardens.

“While this might seem like a quick and effective way to get rid of excess waste, it does impact on others and I would urge everyone to stop and think about the long term implications of these actions.

“The climate change crisis hasn’t simply gone away because society is staying at home and the result of these fires has already recorded increased pollution in some towns across Northern Ireland – having a direct impact on the health of people with asthma and other respiratory conditions.

“With the added concerns around how this will impact those with Covid-19 symptoms and given that Councils in England and Scotland have already introduced measures to combat this issue, I would hope that DAERA is considering similar action either as directive from the department, or as clear guidance for how local Councils should move forward on this issue.

“We must all stay home to save lives, so while at home let’s ensure together that all our actions ensure a safe society moving forward.”