Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Saturday 29 April 2017

Farmers among those told to 'act responsibly' following spate of gorse fires

A gorse fire in Co Galway.
A gorse fire in Co Galway.
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Farmers have been urged to act responsibly following a number of gorse fires in the Dublin Mountains recently.

Fine Gael Senator, Neale Richmond said last Friday evening a large gorse fire broke out on a hillside in Carrickmines, very close to the M50 motorway in south County Dublin.

"The fire raged for an extended period before it was brought under control by a number of fire engines from the Dublin fire brigade."

Richmond said this was the second fire in recent weeks. "The recent fires in this part of south Co Dublin have understandably caused serious concern among local residents.

"The damage done to the hillside by these fires is obvious but the secondary disturbances are even more telling.

"At rush hour last Friday evening, traffic was seriously impacted on the M50 and other surrounding roads due to the distracting nature of the fire and the measures being taken to extinguish it, but also by the impact on driver visibility due to the plumes of smoke emitting from the fire.

Currently section 40 of the Wildlife Act 1976, as amended, prohibits the cutting, grubbing, burning or destruction of vegetation, with certain strict exemptions, from 1 March to 31 August.
Currently section 40 of the Wildlife Act 1976, as amended, prohibits the cutting, grubbing, burning or destruction of vegetation, with certain strict exemptions, from 1 March to 31 August.

"Needless to say, a number of local residents contacted me, severely perturbed by the sight of yet another fire so close to their homes.

"The threat of the fire spreading was quite real for some, while the damaging impact of the smoke was also quite apparent," he said.

The Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather Humphreys said significant environmental damage is caused by wildfire and that issue has become more acute in recent years.

She said the main source of wild gorse fires is thought to be the deliberate starting of fires without concern for the consequences.

"Aside from such malicious activities, one of the main challenges is to encourage members of the public, including landowners, farmers and recreational users of publicly accessible land, to act responsibly at all times, to be mindful of their own safety and the safety of others, to be mindful of the need to protect property, both publicly owned and privately owned.”

Currently section 40 of the Wildlife Act 1976, as amended, prohibits the cutting, grubbing, burning or destruction of vegetation, with certain strict exemptions, from 1 March to 31 August.

The Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs has taken over 50 prosecutions in recent years relating to individuals for breaches of section 40 of the Wildlife Act for the burning of gorse and vegetation.

Fines were imposed in all cases, ranging from €50 to €600.

According to the Minister, in some cases, the defendants were ordered by the court to pay legal costs and expenses. Members of An Garda Síochána are also authorised officers to prosecute breaches of the Wildlife Acts.

"My Department will, of course, continue to work closely with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the Garda Síochána, as appropriate, to investigate the causes of wild fires and, where evidence is forthcoming, to pursue appropriate enforcement under the Wildlife Acts or other legislation," the Minister said.


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