Michael Fitzmaurice, Independent TD, reacts to reports that a waste burning exemption for farmers was supposedly allowed to expire at the beginning of this year.
The waste burning exemption for farmers, which allows for the burning of trees, trimmings, bushes and other similar materials from agricultural purposes, must remain in place.
The government must reinstate this exemption as a matter of urgency. The Department of Environment, Climate and Communications, along with Minister Eamon Ryan, need to recognise that this exemption is practical and has worked efficiently for a number of years.
Waste burning exemption for farmers
When farmers breast hedges during the open period, they endeavour to push back and intertwine branches etc, where possible.
However, over the years, it is necessary for farmers to trim hedges where growth has accumulated.
This is particularly the case in fields that border roads and laneways. Otherwise, the hedges would continue to grow out onto roads and further inwards in fields.
Farmers maintain their hedges responsibly and carry out the work in a designated timeframe, outside of the bird nesting season.
This exemption to burn green waste is the only practical solution to dealing with branches and trimmings that come from this necessary process.
Of course, if a tree falls in a storm or is cut down due to safety risks, the landowner or farmer is going to chop up and store this timber to use in their own fire.
But they cannot do this with branches and trimmings. What is the alternative if the burning of this type of material is discontinued permanently?
Are farmers going to have to hire out mulchers? Burning was a safe and controlled way of managing this waste while keeping the relevant authorities informed.
Surely, the rural TDs of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael could not support a move to remove this exemption.
I call on Minister Ryan and his department to reinstate this exemption as a matter of urgency.