The Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) are calling on both Minister Heather Humphreys and Minister Michael Creed to finally take action to change legal burning dates within the Heritage Bill.
Minister Creed has failed to play his part by ignoring the fact that burning is an agricultural activity in the uplands in a similar way to re seeding or topping of green land according to CAP spokesperson Colm O’Donnell.Together with grazing, controlled burning is both a necessary and essential way of maintaining the uplands in a state suitable for grazing and cultivation. Despite this, in the terms and conditions of the 2017 BPS booklet,the minister states , “As regards the maintenance of mountain and hill land, generally the only way of keeping it in an eligible state is with an adequate level of livestock appropriate to the conditions.”
Traditionally, hill farmers burned off the mature vegetation in the month of March when conditions were favourable i.e. dry enough to carry out a controlled burn safely without affecting ground nesting birds.”No level of expertise could carry out this activity when the ground is too wet or indeed too dry as is currently the case,” continued O’Donnell.
Minister Creed needs to support Minister Humphreys proposal to extend the burning dates to include the month of March , then farmers need vital supports from the Local Authorities, Fire Service, the DAFM and the NPWS to rectify this monster which has been created by bad legislation.