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Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Issues Warning About Illegal Burning of Land

on Tuesday, 05 March 2019. Posted in Blog, Tillage, Sheep, Dairy, Beef

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has issued a strong warning to farmers and their advisors in relation to agricultural and eligible forestry land which is burnt illegally during the closed season – i.e. 1 March to 31 August.

If you burn land after the 1 March:

  • You risk prosecution;
  • Such land is not eligible for payment under the Basic Payment Scheme and other area-based schemes;
  • Inclusion of illegally burnt land in the 2019 Basic Payment Scheme application may result in reduced payment and penalties under this scheme and the other area-based schemes, e.g. Areas of Natural Constraints Scheme;
  • Illegal burning can also render the land of your neighbours ineligible for payment;
  • Where it is identified that lands were burnt during the closed season this may result in such land being inspected by Department officials.

Both farmers and the wider public, whether it be at work or in enjoying the countryside, should at this time of year be mindful of the damage caused by burning, particularly given the current very dry weather.

The Department also advised that the DAFM Forest Fire Danger Rating level has been set to Condition Yellow. This level of warning signifies a need for an increased awareness of fire risks by all countryside users. This Condition will remain the minimum default status unless otherwise upgraded by DAFM. We will continue to issue updates advising of the risk and mitigation measures, which can be taken. Forest owners and managers are advised to check and update fire plans and other relevant contingencies such as insurance, firebreaks, access and water points, helicopter contracts etc.

The Department asks all countryside users to be vigilant, to report any suspicious activity to An Garda Síochána, and to report any uncontrolled or unattended fires immediately to the Fire and Emergency Services via 112/999 service

The burning of vegetation is controlled by the Wildlife Acts. It is an offence under Section 40 of the Wildlife Act, 1976 (amended by Section 46 of the Wildlife Act, 2000) to burn, from 01 March to 31 August in any year, any vegetation growing on any land not then cultivated. Individuals who are found to burn vegetation within that prohibited period are liable to prosecution by An Garda Síochána or by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS). DAFM has no role in regard to prosecutions.

Land that is illegally burnt is ineligible for payment under the area based schemes.

Applicants under the Basic Payment Scheme and other area-based schemes are obliged to comply with Cross Compliance, which includes requirements in relation to the burning of vegetation and the consequential damage to designated land. Where an applicant is found, at inspection or on receipt of a Cross Report from NPWS, to have been responsible for breaching these requirements a penalty can be applied to payments due under these schemes.

Land found to have been burned during the specified closed season for burning is considered automatically ineligible under the various support schemes.

A text message notification is also being issued to farmers in respect of the above.

The DAFM forest fire warning level can be found at www.agriculture.gov.ie/forestservice/firemanagement

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