Mayo County Council has issued significantly fewer permits for the burning of bushes and hedge cuttings to farmers and landowners over the past three years than other local authorities, according to analysis done by the Irish Farmers Journal.
The council said it has issued an average of 19 burning permits per year for each of the years 2019, 2020 and 2021.
This compares to an average of 150 permits issued per year by Limerick County Council over the same timeframe and an average of 302 per year by Meath County Council.
Meanwhile, Central Statistics Office (CSO) statistics show that there are approximately 12,500 farms in Co Mayo.
This compares to significantly lower numbers of farms in Limerick and Meath at approximately 6,000 and 4,500 farms respectively.
It is not clear whether the lower number of burning permits issued per farm in Mayo compared to other counties has come about due to a lack of applications or a refusal by the local authority to grant permission.
The Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC) confirms that a farmer or landowner can burn bushes throughout the year once a permit is granted by their local authority.
Hedge cutting is not allowed between the end of February and September, the bird nesting season.
Such waste, cut before 1 March, can be burned at any time of the year, as long as the farmer has a permit.
The Irish Farmers Journal sought details on the number of such permits issued per year for the last three years from all local authorities in Ireland.
Kerry County Council says it has issued an average of 90 permits for each of 2019, 2020 and 2021, while Wexford County Council issued an average of 168 and Wicklow County Council an average of 102.
There were a number of local authorities which declined to provide data on their burning permits, despite queries.
There were also differences reported by the local authorities on the fines which farmers can face if they are found to have burned bushes without the required permit.
Limerick, Waterford, Wexford and Sligo county councils state that farmers or landowners can be fined up to a maximum of €5,000 for such an offence under the Waste Management Act 1996.
Elsewhere, Carlow County Council said the fine wouldn’t exceed €1,000 and local authorities in Meath and Leitrim said it would be a maximum of €3,000.
Wicklow County Council reported that there is no fixed penalty for burning without a permit and Mayo County Council said there is no fine at all.