Simon Coveney T.D., Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine has called on farmers, forest owners, forest managers and the public to be alert to the risk of land and forest fires over the coming Bank Holiday weekend.
The Minister noted that while current weather conditions are highly variable, very high-risk fire conditions appear to exist in some parts of the country, in particular the South and South West regions, with several fires reported in North Kerry in the last few days. The forecast for the May Bank Holiday weekend is equally variable, but high fire risk conditions should be anticipated in all Western regions and in Eastern upland regions where fuel conditions permit.
‘Two years ago, we saw a number of major fires over the Bank Holiday weekend that destroyed or damaged property, including farmland and forestry. To date in 2013, we continue to see large numbers of fires reported from around the country. As can be seen from the media coverage, such fires are not confined to remote areas, these incidents affect rural communities and endanger people’s homes and lives and place enormous strain on the resources of our emergency services,’ Minister Coveney said.
The Minister urged landowners, rural dwellers and holidaymakers to be vigilant and to help prevent a repeat of the destruction over the coming holiday weekend. Suspicious activity should be reported to the Gardaí and uncontrolled or unattended fires should be reported immediately to the Fire and Emergency Services.
Minister Coveney again urged forest owners to be especially vigilant. ‘I would urge all forest owners and forest managers to check their fire plans and fire lines and to maintain a high degree of vigilance regarding fire over the coming days,’ Minister Coveney concluded.
The Minister reminded land owners that under the Wildlife Acts, it is illegal to burn growing vegetation on land not cultivated between March 1 and August 31 and persons engaged in such illegal activity are liable to prosecution. Farmers who are engaged in such activity may also face penalties on their Direct Payments.