Sunday 18 February 2018 06:56:58 AM

Traditional Twelfth Bonfires To New Beacons
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A NEW era of seasonal bonfires beckons. Slowly the days of burning rubber tyres and other noxious materials are ending and those celebrating their special events are looking foward now to more sustainable practices where the atmosphere is not polluted and road surfaces are not destroyed at great expense to the taxpayer.

In a recent initiative through the Down District Community Safety Partnership (DDCSP), several special beackons have been bought in which willow pellets burn which give off a fire and glows and smokes. But the beacon is off the ground causing nop damage and when the fire is out the ashes etc can all be cleaned up very quickly next day leaving virtually no trace of a bonfire.

The DDCSP  has joined forces with other agencies and local communities in providing an alternative to the traditional 11th July bonfire for the second year.

The bonfire beacon at Spa.

Councillor Billy Walker, Chair of the Bonfire Liaison Committee, a sub committee of the DDCSP said, “Both Mount Crescent, Downpatrick and Hillside, Spa enjoyed the eleventh night celebrations in a safe and environmentally friendly way without causing damage to the local area. The Bonfire Beacon Project has developed over the last two years and we can now see the benefits and the support from the local communities. We have seen that even young people are more environmentally concerned and have embraced this project as the way forward.

“Bonfires are an important aspect of community celebration and tradition. However there is increasing public concern regarding the environmental and social impact of bonfires. The DDCSP recognises the need for communities to celebrate but we have provided this new resource to local communities so that consideration to others can be adapted.”

The Bonfire Beacons are steel pyramids filled with willow woodchips and built on sand. The beacons burn fiercely but safely for up to two hours. Also, beacons have the benefit of significantly reduced clean up costs and cause no environmental damage. The beacon is a way of reducing the negative effect of bonfires on local communities and a way for organisations to address celebrations in a positive manner both at Halloween and in July and other large public events.

Local residents at Mount Crescent in Downpatrich beside the bonfire beacon. Included is Cllr Billy Walker, left.

Councillor Billy Walker added, “I would like to take this opportunity to thank our partner agencies, those who provided funding and community representatives for the amount of work they have put into developing this project. This is certainly one of our many successes in Down District where working together has made a difference in local communities. The beacon project will be rolled out three times a year during the bonfire seasons making Down District one of the top environmentally friendly districts in Northern Ireland.”

The project is funded jointly by the DDCSP and the EU’s Peace III programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes body and delivered by the North Down, Ards and Down Councils Cluster.