Green Party TD for Wicklow Steven Matthews has urged the Minister for Agriculture to make contact with farmers in an effort to stem the annual wave of gorse fires.
Deputy Matthews said, “The recent fires across the Wicklow Mountains are not wild, they appear to be planned and deliberate. The fires are causing huge habitat destruction, loss of biodiversity and are stretching and endangering our emergency services. We see this every year as agricultural land is burned to clear gorse and scrub. These actions are not permitted at this time of year and therefore it is illegal. Enforcing the law is necessary but prevention of such environmental damage would be so much better. We need to change this behaviour and get more supports for farmers to manage the land.
“Teagasc and the Department of Agriculture, Food & Marine are available to guide farmers who may not have the adequate supports to carry out managed and controlled burning and in a manner that lessens the over all environmental damage. I urge Teagasc and the Minister for Agriculture to do more to stop this environmental destruction. I have written to the Minister to ask his department to contact farmers in the annually problematic locations to explain the supports, services and alternative methods available. Farmers do not want to kill wildlife, destroy habitats and endanger the emergency services but many need more support to manage the land in a more environmentally harmonious way.”
The National Parks and Wildlife service, the Department of Agriculture and the fire services have all appealed to people, in particular farmers, not to set hill fires at this time.
Hundreds of acres of land across the Wicklow Mountains and the Blackstairs on the Wexford/Carlow boarder have been destroyed due to gorse fires.
Footage below from the RTÉ News shows National Park staff and the fire services being assisted by helicopters to fight fires in the Wicklow Gap area this week.
(Pic.Blessington Fire Service)