Council may ‘waive’ more gorse fire bills

May 30th, 2023 10:05 PM

By Jackie Keogh

A bill one West Cork resident received after the recent gorse fires.

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‘ONCE we receive a call and provide a service, we are required by the budgetary pro- cess to issue an invoice,’ said the Council’s director of environment, Louis Duffy, when discussing gorse fires with members of the western divisional committee.

Sometimes, he said, there are circumstances, such as hardship, when the Council will waive the charge or part of the charge. Anyone who has received an invoice, and has a concern, can contact the Council’s fire service and the situation will be assessed.

Mr Duffy reminded councillors that 71 gorse fires occurred in the West Cork area between Friday, February 24th and March 1st, the day the ban on burning came in.

He said the Council wishes to remind the public that under the Wildlife Acts it is illegal to cut, grub, burn or otherwise destroy, any vegetation growing on any land not then cultivated or in course of cultivation for agriculture or forestry between March 1st and August 31st each year.

‘Uncontrolled fires pose a danger to wildlife, property, infrastructure, the environment and potentially, human life,’ he said, ‘and they can be a significant and prolonged draw on Council Fire Service resources and may compromise their ability to respond to other incidents such as road collisions or domestic fires.’

Cllr John O’Sullivan (FG) suggested a flexible start date for the burning ban. But Mr Duffy said landowners should consider burning earlier in the new year. He also urged landowners to physically remove material to ensure there is a fire break, as they are a key factor in controlling the spread of gorse fires.

A number of landowners who rang the fire services after finding gorse fires started by someone else threatened their land earlier this year, received substantial bills as a result. After their plights were highlighted in The Southern Star, they were contacted by Cork County Council to say their bills were being cancelled.

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