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Minister of State McEntee Reminds Farmers and Landowners of the Continued Risk of Forest Fires

Remarking on the recent spate of forest fires, Shane McEntee TD, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with responsibility for forestry stated "Setting fire to growing vegetation at this time of year is not only an extremely dangerous practice, it is also illegal. The dry spell of weather currently being experienced in parts of the country, and over recent weeks, has  significantly  increased the  risk of forest fires and the consequential risks to the  lives of rural dwellers, their  property, and their livelihoods. Met Eireann has confirmed that weather conditions conducive to the rapid spread of wildfires will apply throughout the country for the next week.  Last year, thousands of acres of valuable forestry was lost due to illegal and careless land burning, while the extent of the destruction of wildlife and natural habitats remains incalculable."

Minister of State McEntee went on to say "This wanton destruction cannot be allowed to continue.  It is completely unacceptable for a person to  act, so thoughtlessly as to set fire to vegetation and then to  simply walk away from the consequences of that action, when those  consequences could destroy the very  lives and livelihoods of their own neighbours.  I am taking this opportunity to call on all rural dwellers, farmers, forest owners, landowners and especially those that own, rent, lease or manage commonage, to unite in their response against the unacceptable behaviour of a small minority of careless and reckless people."

He warned "This year there will be a co-ordinated effort to tackle the instances of wildfire outbreak and to monitor the burning activities of landowners and I welcome the support of all responsible stakeholders in achieving this goal. I want to make it clear that, until 31st of August, the burning of growing vegetation is prohibited.  Any person found breaching this prohibition risks prosecution, fines and imprisonment. Any farmer found engaging in illegal burning will face the same rigours of the law but will also risk the loss of their Single Farm Payment."

Minister of State McEntee asked all rural dwellers, farmers, landowners and people that use the countryside and forests for recreational purposes

  • Please DO NOT LIGHT FIRES IN OR NEAR WOODLAND.
  • If you detect a fire, then waste no time in calling the emergency services. You could save someone's life.

He emphasised that foresters and forest owners should take particular note of the following:

  1. FOREST INSURANCE. Since 1st June 2009, Reconstitution Grants no longer cover damage from fire to forests. It is, therefore, essential for forest owners to ensure that their forestry plantations have adequate fire insurance cover, which is one of the risks for which cover is available commercially.
  2. CHECK FIRE BREAKS AND FIRE LINES. The Forest owner is responsible for the regular maintenance of fire breaks and lines. Prior to and during the fire season, fire breaks should be inspected and cleared of all vegetation. This will help impede the progress of any possible fire and will also allow safer access to fire fighters to the scene of a fire.
  3. FIRE PLANS.  A robust and effective Fire Plan is essential for all forests. Your Fire Plan should, at least, include a map showing access, egress and assembly points for the Fire Service. It should clearly identify water sources, and provide the contact details of local emergency services and also the contact details of those who can be called upon to assist in the event of a fire.  It is a good idea for owners of contiguous forest plantations to develop joint fire plans and share the responsibility of fire prevention and emergency response.
  4. CO-OPERATE WITH YOUR NEIGHBOURS.  Successful fire prevention depends on cooperation between neighbouring landowners. Always explain your concerns regarding fire risk to your neighbours.
  5. BE ALERT.  The current dry spell amplifies the need for forest owners to be particularly vigilant regarding fire outbreak.  In many areas ground vegetation is dry enough to be a very significant concern.
  6. REPORT LOSSES. If a forestry plantation is destroyed or sustains damage from fire, forest owners should immediately report the incident to the Forest Service and to the nearest Garda Station.
  7. FURTHER INFORMATION. Farmers and forest owners are reminded that further information on fire prevention and forest protection is available on the Department's website on www.agriculture.gov.ie

Minister of State McEntee thanked and complimented the Land and Forest Fires Working Group for their efforts to raise awareness of the dangers of burning vegetation, improve fire prevention and also for the development of the new publicity campaign launched in February. On behalf of all rural dwellers, he extended his sincerest gratitude to the Emergency Services for their relentless efforts, each year, to protect lives and property from destruction by fire.

Date Released: 19 April 2011