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Government seeks alternatives to burning bushes

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The burning of bushes is set to be phased out. Photo: Stock image

The burning of bushes is set to be phased out. Photo: Stock image

The burning of bushes is set to be phased out. Photo: Stock image

A study is to be carried out to identify alternatives to the burning of green waste on farms after Minister of State Ossian Smyth said the current derogation allowing the practice is unlikely to be extended next year.

An exemption in the current Waste Management laws provides for the permissible disposal of agricultural waste by burning under certain conditions, including, among others, when the material consists of uncontaminated wood, trees, tree trimmings, leaves, brush and similar waste.

Minister Eamon Ryan granted the latest extension to the derogation in February.

Addressing the Seanad, last week, Minister Smyth said it was never intended that the exemption would extend indefinitely, adding he anticipated this would be the final extension.

“My Department has engaged with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine on this matter and it has agreed to conduct a feasibility study to examine this matter in some detail, with a view to establishing alternative measures to the burning of agricultural green waste within the Irish context and to access the practicality of these alternatives,” he said.

The feasibility study will include a literature review of alternative practices carried out in other regions comparable with Ireland that are viable, practical and environmentally sustainable. The study will also include a public stakeholder consultation, he said.

“The study, which is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2022, will identify potential alternative measures to burning and the potential benefits and challenges associated with them.

“This study will help inform appropriate policy actions to take in order to establish alternative measures to burning on Irish farms,” Minister Smyth said.

The issue of air pollution caused by this practice is well established, the Minister said, adding: “We are trying to steer a course here and, at the same time, do the right thing for members of the public in breathing air and also for farmers.”

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