A strong warning not to carry out any illegal burning has been issued to landowners by Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed.
The Minister said in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was more important than ever that no one started an illegal fire in the countryside. Such activity will cause the unnecessary diversions of emergency service resources, he said.
“Wildfires put homes and livelihoods at direct risk and cause considerable disruption to rural communities and habitats.
"At any time, but particularly in the current emergency, such disturbance to rural dwellers, including those who are old and vulnerable, cannot be permitted under any circumstances,” Creed said.
The Department warned those found to be burning land between 1 March and 31 August:You risk prosecution, fines and potential imprisonment.Such land will no longer be eligible for payment under the Basic Payment Scheme and other area-based schemes.Inclusion of illegally burnt land in the 2020 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.Where it is identified that lands were burnt during the closed season, this may result in such land being inspected by Department officials.
Minister Creed stated: “This is an unprecedented time in Ireland and everyone must play their part in supporting our emergency services and ensuring they are not needlessly diverted.
“Both farmers and the wider public, whether they are at work or enjoying the countryside, should be mindful of the significant risks of fire at this time of year and be aware of the damage to land and habitats caused by illegal burning."
The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) has issued a reminder about the importance of closed season for fires as the spring and early summer is prime season for nesting birds, breeding mammals and the regeneration of growth and habitats after the winter period.
The NPWS confirmed that it will be deploying electronic and other surveillance equipment in the vicinity of national parks and reserves.
The introduction of restrictions on social interaction since the onset of COVID-19 has seen a significant increase in the use of outdoor areas by the public.
As a result, there is an increased risk of fire associated with this in upland areas.
Forest users and visitors have been asked to behave responsibly, observe correct physical distancing practice and to park considerately so as not to impede access of emergency vehicles to sites.
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