In light of recent fires causing vast destruction to flora and fauna, Louth County Council is reminding landowners that under the Wildlife Act 1976, as amended, hedge cutting (except in the case of road safety) and burning of gorse or other vegetation is illegal from the 1st March to the 31st August.
The Waste Management (Prohibition of Waste Disposal by Burning) Regulations 2009 permits the burning of pre-cut agricultural waste during this period as a final measure only once other efforts have been exhausted.
This includes wood, trees, bushes, gorse, tree trimmings and similar waste from agricultural practices but excludes garden and park waste.
In order to burn during the period of 1st March and 31st August you must apply for a burning licence from Louth County Council and the agricultural waste to be burned must have been cut prior to the 1st March.
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Farmers cannot just cut and burn agricultural waste, there are several steps to be followed prior to burning. The first requirement is to reduce the waste arising in accordance with best agricultural practice, then to reuse the waste, then to recycle through shredding and use as compost or wood chippings, and then to salvage these items for fuel where practicable.
Only after all these efforts have been exhausted what cannot be reused, recycled or salvaged may be burnt.
Farmers have a responsibility under the act to limit the overall nuisance or possibilities for endangering human health or causing environmental pollution or damage to adjoining hedgerows or habitats. The weather is therefore all important when deciding where to burn.
It would be important to ensure burning is not carried out during long dry spells where fire spread via grass may occur, or on very windy days where wind could act as an accelerant and bring the fire out of control, or cause smoke to interfere with road safety. Piles of items to be burnt must be located well away from wooded areas, properties, ditches, bushes or any growing vegetation.
Items to be burnt should always be checked for nesting animals.
Louth County Council carry out spot checks to ensure that correct procedures have been followed, and following approval of application will contact the Fire Brigade Control Centre in Dublin and give them details of the time and date of the controlled burn. Fire Brigade Control will ensure that no Brigade from Louth is mobilised.
If a fire emergency occurs during the controlled burn, the landowner should of course contact Fire Brigade Control (999 or 112) themselves.
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