Two landowners in Co. Wicklow have been fined under the Wildlife Act for burning vegetation out of season, the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage has said.

The case involved the burning of living vegetation during the closed season, which is an offence under Section 40 of the Wildlife Acts 1976-2018. 

Earlier this week (Monday, October 3), Kenneth and Pamela Balfe at Gap Road, Lacken, Co. Wicklow both pleaded guilty to the offence and were fined €1,000 each at Naas District Court in Co. Kildare.

A National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) ranger outlined the evidence to the court, stating that on April 17, 2021, he responded to reports from concerned members of the public that scrub and trees were being burned.

The ranger travelled to the area where he could see smoke and flames beginning to arise from gorse bushes, and talked to the landowners who admitted starting the fire, however denied any wrongdoing. 

Judge Desmond Zaidan, who imposed the two €1,000 fines when the case was brought before Naas District Court, said:

“It was unbelievable that, as landowners, the defendants would think that burning living vegetation was appropriate and that they wouldn’t know of the restrictions.”

Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcom Noonan has welcomed this latest prosecution under the Wildlife Act

A total of 25 successful prosecutions have been closed under the Wildlife Act so far this year, with another 44 currently being progressed, according to the department.

“I would like to remind people that wildlife crime is a serious offence. The NPWS has never been more focussed, or more effective, on tackling wildlife crime,” Minister Noonan said.