The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has issued advice to farmers and their advisors in relation to agricultural and eligible forestry land which is burnt during the closed season.
The closed season lasts from Monday, March 1, to August 31, the authority notes.
The department says it has now activated its Fire Danger Rating System for the season and advises that forest owners and managers should check and update fire plans and other relevant contingencies such as insurance, firebreaks, access and water points, and private helicopter contracts etc, so as to be prepared well in advance of high fire risk phases.
Rural dwellers should also assess wildfire risks to their properties and prepare accordingly, it was added.
It is also more important than ever that no one should start an illegal fire in the countryside as such activity will cause the unnecessary diversions of emergency service resources.
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 department also reminded farmers of the negative consequences of burning land illegally.
- There is a risk of 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 2021 Basic Payment Scheme application may result in reduced payment and penalties under this scheme and the other area-based schemes, for example Areas of Natural Constraints Scheme;
- Illegal burning can also render the land of your neighbours ineligible for payment; and
- Where it is identified that lands were burnt during the closed season, this may result in such land being inspected by department officials.
The department also reminds farmers that the hedge-cutting season closed as well on March 1, and will remain so until August 31.
There is provision in the legislation (section 40 of the Wildlife Act, 1976 as amended by section 46 of the 2000 Amendment Act) for landowners and public authorities to address hedges for road safety reasons at any time of the year.