Lisburn: illegal dump at Stoneyford Reservoir set alight

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Police are investigating an act of arson at a Co Antrim illegal dump with anger in the community over an “environmental eyesore”.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) recently highlighted rising tensions concerning a dumping ground at the Stoneyford Reservoir beauty spot.

Northern Ireland Water (NIW) who own the land have been accused of “turning a blind eye” after its officials were allegedly threatened at the site. It has also confirmed this week that NIW will not take action to remove dumped material until after the July 11th bonfire night is over.

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A NIW spokesperson said: “NI Water is aware that a substantial amount of material has been burnt over the past few days at the Stoneyford site leaving behind damage to the land and an environmental eyesore.

Material has been burnt over the past few days at the site.Material has been burnt over the past few days at the site.
Material has been burnt over the past few days at the site.

“NI Water has contractors on standby to remove the remaining material, however this will not be possible until the week beginning 15th July. At this time the area will be secured with temporary measures.

“As the reservoir is currently not in service this will not impact on water quality or supply to customers, however, it is home to a variety of wildlife who depend on the natural habitat for survival. NI Water remains committed to seeking a resolution and continues to work with the community, local authorities and elected representatives to resolve the ongoing issues at this site.”

Previous Years

The LDRS has seen a NIW letter to a resident, which outlines how in “previous years, efforts to remove material and monitor activity was met with threats of violence against our staff, which makes it difficult for us to take any meaningful action”.

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Waste material dumped at Stoneyford.Waste material dumped at Stoneyford.
Waste material dumped at Stoneyford.

The site has seen the appearance of ‘UVF’ graffiti in recent weeks as well as junk piling up, which locals say is “spilling out on to the road”. However, local authorities and the PSNI have failed to stop fly-tipping at the site.

Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council (LCCC) cross-party Killultagh reps have previously spoken out against the illegal dump, with calls for the “bully actions” of those responsible to stop.

However, just two days after the LDRS reported the illegal dump, it was reported as having been set alight. More waste material is now visibly being collected again at the NIW lands.

A local resident, who wished to remain anonymous said: "It looks like another year NIW is turning a blind eye and letting those responsible for the dump and the fire get away with it.

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Councillors have previously spoken out against the illegal dump.Councillors have previously spoken out against the illegal dump.
Councillors have previously spoken out against the illegal dump.

“The dump will no doubt get rebuilt and burned again for July 11th, and nothing will be done to prevent that either.”

It is understood that the fire was reported to the NI Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS), but not to the PSNI. The police confirmed to the LDRS, that a PSNI patrol only discovered the burnt out site at a later date when it was “still smouldering” some three days later.

A NIFRS spokesperson said: “Firefighters were called to reports of bonfire material on fire at Stoneyford Road, Lisburn Saturday 29 June 2024, 6.27am.

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“Firefighters extinguished the fire using two hose reels. The cause of the fire is believed to have been deliberate ignition and the incident was dealt with by 7.26am.”

A PSNI spokesperson added: "On Tuesday 2nd July, Lisburn neighbourhood policing officers visited the Stoneyford Reservoir area and noted that most of the materials, which had been left at the site in recent weeks had been burnt, causing damage to the hedgerow which borders the road.

“The matter has been treated as arson and police would appeal to the local community, who may have information which could assist our investigation, to report on 101, or via reference number is RM24041453.

“Engagement with NI Water, other partner agencies and local residents is ongoing. Police continue to encourage anyone who can provide evidence of criminal offences which fall under our investigative remit to make a report.”