By CONOR NASH
THE gardaí are offering advice to farmers and landowners to help them combat the issue of landfires in West Cork.
A recent meeting of the Cork Co-operative Land Fire Group outlined its intention to promote safe burning practices and to prevent illegal burning.
The group highlighted that the prohibited burning season is between March 1st and August 31st, despite the talks of pushing back the March deadline.
The group is made up of all relevant stakeholders including the IFA, An Garda Siochána, Coillte, Teagasc, the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Cork County Fire Service and a Community Alert Development Officer.
West Cork crime prevention officer Sgt Ian O’Callaghan acknowledged the fact that the burning of scrub is a necessary and effective tool for landowners and farmers.
However, it must be carried out at a safe time of the year and at a safe air humidity level, wind speed and direction, with firebreaks at strategic places, he said.
‘Landowners have a responsibility to limit a build-up of scrub by management and the need for co-operation with friends and neighbours,’ Sgt O’Callaghan said. ‘Do not burn if the weather is unsuitable for controlled burning. Obtain weather forecasts as close to the time of burning as possible.’
Among the tips he offered were: Do not burn when the moss and plant litter on the ground has completely dried out; do not burn if the wind is too strong for the fuel types involved; do not burn if the flames are likely to be 3m long; do not allow the width of the burn to exceed 50m; do not burn unless you know how and where the fire will be extinguished; do not burn uphill on steep slopes, and do not burn in hedgerows, woodland, national monuments, thin eroding soils, summits or ridges.
Ensure that workers are supervised, understand the burn plan and emergency procedures and have access to clean drinking water.
‘Controlled burning of land or vegetation between September 1st and February 28th requires expert skill and a rigorous fire plan needs to be in place,’ Sgt O’Callaghan stated.
The Department of Agriculture website under Forestry has a Prescriber Burning Code of Practice booklet for download. The next meeting of the Inter Agency Group will be in August, prior to the legal burning season commencing on September 1st.