Alliance MLA Andrew Muir has said he is disappointed in the response after quizzing Environment Minister Edwin Poots over his enforcement action on bonfires containing tyres.
With images across Northern Ireland showing several bonfires with tyres in them, North Down MLA Mr Muir wrote to the Minister expressing concern over the lack of action relating to dumping and burning them.
In response, Minister Poots confirmed his Department has the powers to issue fines and to pursue criminal prosecution for the offences. However, in the past five years, DAERA has only issued five fines relating to the dumping and burning of tyres, totalling £2,825 in value.
“The burning of tyres releases hundreds of toxic and carcinogenic chemicals into the air, which can lead to lung, heart and other problems for local residents. Only last week, a bonfire in my own constituency was revealed as having dozens of tyres in the middle,” said Mr Muir.
“Edwin Poots has the power to punish those who are responsible for the burning of tyres. But the fact his Department has issued only five fines in the past five years says to me the powers have not been used enough.
“Those responsible for putting tyres on bonfires need to know if they are caught doing so, action will be taken and they will be rightly punished. The current level of enforcement from DAERA is too low to provide a significant deterrent, and this needs to change.
“I call on Minister Poots to immediately consider how his Department can better utilise its existing enforcement powers to protect local residents. Tyres appear on bonfires year after year, and it is long past time DAERA had a strategy in place for putting an end to it.”