Clare County Fire & Rescue Service is warning forest owners and managers, farmers and the general public that there is a heightened risk of wildfires due to the current dry spell and the forecast for further dry weather over the Easter period.
The warning comes exactly a year after scores of fires throughout the county led to hundreds of acres of land and forestry being damaged. At times during April 2013, every available fire-fighter in the county was deployed to deal with gorse and forestry fires.
“The highest risk period for forest, bog and gorse fires occurs between March and June, when ground vegetation is dead and dry following the winter period. The current dry spell of weather will exacerbate this risk,” explained Adrian Kelly, Clare Chief Fire Officer.
“We would like to remind landowners that it is an offence under the Wildlife Act to burn growing vegetation between March 1 and August 31 in any year, on any land not then cultivated. The sad fact is that if this simple rule was adhered to, many costly and dangerous wildfires would be avoided,” he said.
Meanwhile, Clare County Fire and Rescue Service is reminding the public about the dangers and legislation associated with backyard and uncontrolled burning
Mr Kelly said, “Uncontrolled burning can result in loss of life as well as damage to property. It is often mistakenly seen as a cheap method of managing waste and it is presumed not to be harmful to the environment, but nothing could be further from the truth. Controlled burning should follow the procedure of ensuring that any burning is pre-planned and takes place in a controlled fashion. The Fire Service must also be notified through the 999/112 system prior to any burning taking place.”
Details of the laws in relation to burning are available on the Council website, www.clarecoco.ie or the Department of Agriculture and Food website, www.agriculture.gov.ie/forestservice/landandforestfires.
The advice includes:
– Landowners burning gorse, scrub, or vegetation must inform the Fire Service at least one day in advance on 999 or 112 providing details of the location, time and duration of burning.
– In addition, landowners burning within 1 mile of woodland must notify the local Garda Station and woodland owner in writing at least seven days in advance.
– Where burning is to take place within a Special Area of Conservation or Natural Heritage Area, written consent must be sought in advance from the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
– It is illegal to burn household or commercial/industrial waste, household green waste (e.g. hedging), electric cables for the recovery of copper, or to burn waste in bonfires.
– There is a temporary exemption until 1st January 2016 for waste generated by agricultural practices under Waste Management (Prohibition of waste disposal by burning)(amendment) Regulations 2013. Efforts must be first made to reduce, reuse, and recycle the waste and burning must only be considered as a final measure. Waste must be untreated and uncontaminated by other waste.
– Further advice is contained in the “Prescribed Burning Code of Practice” leaflet which the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has produced to provide guidance to landowners who use controlled burning as a land management tool.