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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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Warning on illegal hedge-cutting and burning

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has issued advice to farmers and their advisors regarding agricultural and eligible forestry land, which is burnt during the closed season – that is March 1st to August 31st.

Both farmers and the wider public, whether it be at work or in enjoying the countryside, should, at this time of year, be mindful of the damage caused by burning, the department stated.

“It is also more important than ever that no one should start an illegal fire in the countryside as such activity will cause the unnecessary diversions of emergency service resources.”

The Department asks all countryside users to be vigilant, to report any suspicious activity to An Garda Síochána, and to report any uncontrolled or unattended fires immediately to the Fire and Emergency Services via 112/999 service.

The Department has also reminded farmers of the negative consequences of burning land illegally.

If you burn land after March 1st:
  • There is a risk of prosecution;
  • Such land is not eligible for payment under the Basic Payment Scheme and other area-based schemes;
  • Inclusion of illegally burnt land in the 2021 Basic Payment Scheme application may result in reduced payment and penalties under this scheme and the other area-based schemes, for example Areas of Natural Constraints Scheme;
  • Illegal burning can also render the land of your neighbours ineligible for payment, and:
  • Where it is identified that lands were burnt during the closed season, this may result in such land being inspected by Department officials.

The Department also reminds farmers that the hedge-cutting season closed as well on March 1st and will remain so until August 31st.

There is provision in the legislation (section 40 of the Wildlife Act, 1976 as amended by section 46 of the 2000 Amendment Act) for landowners and public authorities to address hedges for road safety reasons at any time of the year.


The burning of vegetation is controlled by the Wildlife Acts. It is an offence under Section 40 of the Wildlife Act, 1976 (amended by Section 46 of the Wildlife Act, 2000) to burn, from March 1st to August 31st in any year, any vegetation growing on any land not then cultivated.

Individuals who are found to burn vegetation within that prohibited period are liable to prosecution by An Garda Síochána or by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS). DAFM has no role regarding prosecutions.

Fire Danger Rating System

The department has now activated its Fire Danger Rating System for the season. Forest owners and managers should check and update fire plans and other relevant contingencies to be prepared well in advance of high-fire risk phases.

Rural dwellers should also assess wildfire risks to their properties and prepare accordingly.

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