Court rules Belfast bonfire that poses ‘significant risk to life’ must be reduced to three metres

Court rules Belfast bonfire that poses ‘significant risk to life’ must be reduced to three metres

The HIGH COURT in Belfast has ruled that a bonfire in the city should be reduced to just three metres as it poses a ‘significant risk to property and life’.

The mammoth bonfire at Bloomfield Walkway in East Belfast has been built on land belonging to the Department of Infrastructure.

The structure is close to houses, trees and a children’s play area.

On Tuesday evening, Mrs Justice Keegan ordered the department to take steps to reduce the height of the bonfire and remove all excess materials from the vicinity.

Welcoming the decision, Belfast City Council said Justice Keegan had taken into account ‘community fear and apprehension,’

“The judge made the order taking into account a number of factors,” said the council.

'Risk to life'

“These included elected representative concerns, community fear and apprehension, and significant risk to property and life.

“The judge emphasised that she hoped the community initiative would continue and that the people building the bonfire would see sense.

“The judge also said she will not condone unlawfulness which puts lives and properties at risk.”

According to the Belfast Telegraph, the court heard the bonfire was under the control of ‘sinister forces’ within the East Belfast UVF, who were hampering efforts to resolve the issue.

Local PUP Councillor John Kyle said locals were opposed to the bonfire.

Writing on Twitter, he said: “The size of the Bloomfield Walkway bonfire is completely inappropriate for the location.

“It presents a real risk to life & property, breaches Fire Service guidelines, is strongly opposed by the local community & undermines the excellent work being done by other bonfire groups.”

Speaking on Tuesday evening, SDLP Councillor Tim Attwood welcomed Mrs Justice Keegan’s decision.

"This is a significant decision by the High Court who have clearly accepted that the current bonfire, which is five times the safe height, is a serious and substantial risk to people’s properties and homes,” he said,

“The department must now urgently act to enforce this order and protect the homes of local residents.”

The bonfire is due to be lit on Wednesday evening, the Eleventh night.