A Northern Ireland council is to curb the use of disposable BBQs on its lands following huge wildfire destruction in its Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
Newry, Mourne and Down District Council (NMDDC) this week approved the development of an awareness programme due to concerns of “irresponsible” use and disposal of single use BBQs.
It was heard in chambers, how badly disposed of BBQs, reaching “400 degrees centigrade” have caused wildlife devastation and “horrific injuries” to unsuspecting children.
Mournes Sinn Fein rep, Willie Clarke who raised the original motion, supported council officers’ new proposals, saying: “We should be encouraging people to be mindful of their surroundings and how delicate the environment is.
“We have in our district three AONB.
“We are all aware of the wildfire situation right throughout the world and the damage the irresponsible fires can have.
“Ultimately, it is about an education programme for users of these BBQs.
“You find it absolutely unbelievable that people would light a disposable BBQ on top of a wooden picnic bench and not even use the metal stand that is for the BBQ.
“I’m just thinking of the likes of the Bloody Bridge and all that high quality bespoke furniture has been ruined by a disposable BBQ.
“So, there is a cost implication for council as well.
“We now have a good opportunity moving forward in terms of our forest parks and country parks where we can monitor and challenge people and designate areas for people to use these BBQs, and we could also have proper disposable bins for them, which is essential.”
In recent times, disposable BBQs have been found at the ignition point of major wildfires across the UK.
The National Trust’s Murlough National Nature Reserve has previously appealed for visitors to the Co Down beauty spot not to light disposable barbecues within the protected dune land due to wildfire risks.
Alliance councillor, Jill Truesdale supported the NMDDC proposal, however suggested she would personally make a “total ban” on the BBQs
She said: “I support this 100% and have been on this trail for many, many years with these BBQs
“The biggest message needs to be to change the language, these are not disposable BBQs, they are one time use BBQs.
“Many councils and national parks throughout the UK have banned these one time use BBQs on their land.
“We are really playing catch up, especially with the recent geopark status.
“It shouldn’t have to take a status to be conferred to, as many of us have been campaigning on this for years.
“The safety of people and the environment should be of the highest consideration with any product.
“These have never been the case with these one time use BBQs.
“Personally, I would prefer a total ban to ensure protection and preservation of the natural environment, but a ban remains an uncomfortable option in many people’s minds.
“So, rather than calling for an outright ban, I am calling for basic safety standards to be adhered to.
“We all know that these things can reach 400 degrees centigrade plus.
“The flames and heat cannot be contained, they can cause extreme heat transfer in to the surface, most of the benches they are put on are burnt or melted.
“They can cause horrific injuries, massive and significant environmental destruction, as well as adding to vast amounts of landfill waste.”
The Mournes councillor added: “The council could immediately check this tomorrow, by checking all the picnic benches to see if they have indeed a metal plate.
“Construction safety standards would significantly reduce the risk and see the number of incidents of injury and destruction alongside reducing waste.
“I would like to send council officers a range of graphics already prepared along three fundamentals ‘legs, lid and lift’ on a BBQ, an easy thing to remember in people’s minds when purchasing a BBQ.
“All the graphics, which are free to use have been designed by a dad whose son ran across a one time use BBQ on the beach and sustained third degree burns on his feet and legs.
“I’d also like to ask the council to look into engaging with stakeholders about anyone who still feels the need to use a one use BBQ on the beach, because that is a particularly dangerous area.”