The Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications has confirmed to Agriland that an exemption allowing farmers to burn green waste is “currently under review”.

Under the Waste Management (Prohibition of Waste Disposal by Burning) Regulations 2009, the burning of household, garden, commercial or industrial waste is illegal.

However, an exemption under the legislation had been provided to farmers for the burning of certain waste from September 1 to February 28.

This included untreated/uncontaminated wood, trees, trimmings, leaves, bushes or similar materials generated by agricultural practices.

Green Waste

Concerns have been raised by farmers across the country as local authorities recently revealed that the exemption had lapsed on January 1, 2022, meaning that farmers would no longer be allowed to burn green waste.

Farming organisations and politicians have called for the measure to be reinstated and sought clarity from Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan on the issue.

Many expressed annoyance that the exemption lapsed without any consultation.

A spokesperson for the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications has told Agriland that “the sunset clause, whereby the granting of exemptions would come to a definite end at a specified time, has been extended on four different occasions in the past”.

The statement noted that “the most recent exemption, under the legislation, expired on the January 1, 2022”.

“The burning of green waste is a matter of concern and leads to localised air pollution. More broadly, health problems associated with air pollution are widely known,” the spokesperson added.

“This matter is currently under review by the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications,” the statement concluded.

Taoiseach’s response

Meanwhile, the issue was raised in the Dáil earlier today (Wednesday, February 2) by Clare TD Michael McNamara.

The independent representative asked Taoiseach Micheál Martin if the exemption would continue and pointed out that instead of burning, green waste will have to be mulched using large diesel engines.

The Taoiseach stated there were environmental aspects to consider in relation to the derogation, adding that he would examine the issue in full before issuing a response to the TD’s request.

“While the newly introduced ban is undoubtedly a huge inconvenience to farmers across the country, the environmental benefits of the move are questionable,” McNamara commented.