The director general of the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) has warned farmers not to illegally burn land during the closed season.

“There are six months in which to do it. If it’s illegal, it’s illegal,” Niall Ó Donnchú told the Irish Farmers Journal this week.

“We didn’t have illegal fires last year during the fire season. Prevention is what we’re looking at. Early detection is what we’re looking at,” he said.

The State body has ramped up aerial surveillance in the last number of years, with helicopters monitoring land for illegal burning.

“Because we had the eyes in the sky [last year], there was a huge amount of early detection, and the eye in the sky is supplemented by the boots on the ground, by visible patrols on the ground.

“I can give you a number of instances where our patrols out on the ground, including trained volunteers, have come across fires at a very early stage, and have got the shovels out and dealt with those fires,” he said,

When asked what he would say to landowners or farmers who are illegally burning land he said simply: “Don’t”.