THE Department of Agriculture has issued a strong warning to farmers and their advisors in relation to agricultural and eligible forestry land which is burnt illegally during the closed season, which commenced on Friday.
The closed period runs from March 1 to August 31 and the department has highlighted the following penalties if you burn land:
You risk prosecution.
Such land is not eligible for payment under the Basic Payment Scheme and other area-based schemes.
Inclusion of illegally burnt land in the 2019 Basic Payment Scheme application may result in reduced payment and penalties under this scheme and the other area-based schemes, e.g. 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.
Both farmers and the wider public, whether it be at work or in enjoying the countryside, should at this time of year be mindful of the damage caused by burning, particularly given recent dry weather.
The department also advised that the DAFM Forest Fire Danger Rating level has been set to Condition Yellow. This level of warning signifies a need for an increased awareness of fire risks by all countryside users.
This condition will remain the minimum default status unless otherwise upgraded by DAFM.
The department will continue to issue updates advising of the risk and mitigation measures which can be taken. Forest owners and managers are advised to check and update fire plans and other relevant contingencies such as insurance, firebreaks, access and water points, helicopter contracts, etc.
The department has asked all countryside users to be vigilant, to report any suspicious activity to An Garda Síochána, and to report any uncontrolled or unattended fires immediately to the Fire and Emergency Services via 112/999 service.
The DAFM forest fire warning level can be found at www.agriculture.gov.ie/forestservice/firemanagement.