'Green' bonfires sought

An environmentally friendly alternative to traditional loyalist bonfires to mark the marching season in Northern Ireland is being sought.

Ministers are concerned that some companies illegally dump commercial waste in the marching season bonfires

Ministers are concerned that some companies illegally dump commercial waste in the marching season bonfires

Belfast City Council, supported by Stormont environment minister Sammy Wilson, is carrying out tests on so-called beacons which burn only wood.

Traditionally bonfires burn a variety of materials, including waste and tyres, which create noxious smoke.

Instead, the council aims to find a way to keep the tradition alive in an environmentally friendly way.

Mr Wilson told the Irish Times: "We in government recognise the important cultural significance of bonfires within various community celebrations throughout Northern Ireland."

He added that the bonfires were often used by "unscrupulous businesses" to get rid of commercial waste without paying or following safety procedures.

However, the proposed beacons cost Euro 15,000 each, and Mr Wilson said various government departments would be asked to find ways of funding them.

Earlier this month, companies submitted their prequalification bids for burning waste legitimately.

October 16 was the closing date for bids to build an energy from waste plant as well as large capacity mechanical biological treatment of waste facilities.

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