asked Her Majesty's Government:
Which authority is responsible for the walkways along the River Lagan upstream from Governor's Bridge; why and when the vegetation on either side of the walkways was recently cut back; how many fires have since been set among the resulting stubble; and what is the frequency and purpose of cutting back vegetation when the walkways are hard surfaced.[HL6779]
The Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL), is the authority responsible for 16 miles of pathways on the River Lagan.
In May 2006, DARD Rivers Agency under a service-level agreement with DCAL, cut back encroaching vegetation on both sides of the pathway from Stranmillis upstream, as part of a planned programme of maintenance to protect public safety, maximise towpath width and improve shared-use access for walkers, cyclists, disabled users and others for passive recreation. Neither DCAL nor the Rivers Agency received complaints of burnt stubble or fires from the resulting cuttings. Further towpath maintenance is programmed as necessary.
Laganside Corporation is responsible for the fishing stand pathway upstream of Governor's Bridge to Annadale Embankment lay-by on the east bank of the River Lagan. Laganside has not cut vegetation alongside the pathway this year.
Two other government departments, with responsibility for pathways along the River Lagan, confirm that no fires were reported as a result of pathway maintenance. The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service was called out on three occasions recently to grass fires in the area. These were not, however, on the River Lagan pathways.
There are a number of pathways in private and local authority ownership. I am unable to comment on these pathways.