Every member of the community is responsible for the prevention and reporting of instances of illegal and uncontrolled burning activities. Suspicious activity of this kind should be reported to your local Garda station.
Gardaí want to emphasise the threat that land and forest fires present to people’s lives and property. It is the responsibility of every member of the community, particularly those living near wooded areas, to comply with the legislation and undertake burning in a controlled manner. In addition, members of the community should make themselves aware of the necessary precautions relating to controlled burning by contacting the local fire services for advice or visit www.garda.ie.”
Any person intending to burn within one mile of a wooded area must inform their local Garda station in writing, no less than seven days in advance. Anyone who undertakes burning in such an area without notifying An Garda Síochána is committing an offence.
Superintendent Fergus Healy said "The advice is simple. If you intend to light a fire on your premises, notify us. Be responsible and take the necessary precautions. And if you see a fire, contact the emergency services immediately by calling 112 or 999.”
An Garda Síochána is one of a number of agencies, including Coillte, the National Parks and Wildlife Service and private forestry groups, responsible for reducing the number of land and forest fires. As part of this multi-agency approach to tackling the issue of illegal burning, An Garda Síochána has been appointed Garda Inspectors in each Garda Division to liaise with other interested parties to prevent and detect land and forest fires.
Superintendent Healy continued "Garda Inspectors have been appointed all across the country to work closely with our partner agencies and the community to prevent and detect land and forest fires. We want to continue to reduce the number of fires in 2012 and we recognise that the best way to do that is to seek the assistance of the community. If you see suspicious activity of this kind, please contact your local Garda station or the emergency services if a fire is happening now.”
"We’re asking people to think of their neighbours and their neighbours’ property when they need to burn material. Safety should always come first. Informing Gardaí of your intention to burn is your obligation under the law and it’s your responsibility as a neighbour. Think and act responsibly at all times when considering controlled burning, particularly if it’s near a wooded area.”
1. Current legislation
Under Section 39 of the Wildlife Act, 1976, as amended by the Wildlife (Amendment) Act, 2000, a person shall not burn any vegetation growing within one mile of—
(a) a wood which is not the property of such person, or
(b) other lands restricted by the Wildlife Acts,
unless they have provided written notice of their intention to a Garda Station in a Garda District in which the land they intend to burn is situated.
Notice of intention to be burn must be provided between seven and thirty-five days prior to the burning.
Failure to provide written notice is an offence carrying penalties, upon conviction, of
· First offence – fine not exceeding €634.87 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months or to both,
· Second offence – fine not exceeding €1,269.74 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to both, and
· Third offence – fine not exceeding €1,904.61 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding twelve months or to both.
Further information is available at www.garda.ie.
2. Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food working group
In 2010, the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food established a working group, with representatives from a broad spectrum of interested stakeholders, including farmers, the forest industry, the Fire Service, the Gardai, the Defence Forces, Coillte, Teagasc and the National Parks and Wildlife Service. The working group’s recommendations to the Minister on how to tackle the problem of illegal and uncontrolled burning can be viewed at http://www.agriculture.gov.ie/forestservice/landandforestfires/.
3. Irish forestry and the economy
According to The Irish Forestry and Forest Products Association (IFFPA) The Irish forestry and forest products sector generates approximately €1.89 billion in annual output which accounts for over 1% of Irish GDP and employs over 12,000 people nationwide.
3,000 hectares of forestry was lost over the last two years and it is vital that there is no repeat. At a time when our national planting levels are down to 7,500 hectares per annum, such losses are a terrible blow to the 12,000 people who rely on forestry and its related industry for employment.
According to the private forestry business Woodland (www.woodland.ie), at least 500 hectares of private forestry were destroyed by fires in 2010.
Financial losses are estimated as follows:
· €1.75 million in replanting costs
· €1.5 million in loss of growth
· €200,000 in fire fighting costs, not including the time and costs incurred by owners