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O’Neill highlights risk of wildfires in dry weather

Forestry Minister Michelle O’Neill today reminded landowners and members of the public of the high risk of wildfires during the current good spell of weather that is expected to continue into the Easter weekend.
Thursday, 17 April 2014

Wildfires result in a serious cost to taxpayers, put people’s lives and property at risk and can result in serious environmental damage. The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) is working in strategic partnerships with other organisations to provide a coordinated approach in reducing the future risk of wildfires.

The Minister said: "Whether started accidentally or deliberately wildfires are extremely dangerous and can spread rapidly. The law states that burning of vegetation such as heather, gorse, whin or fern must not be carried out between 15 April and 31 August and only carried out at other times of the year under controlled and expert supervision.

"The law also requires any person wishing to burn vegetation within one and a half kilometres of a forest to give the forest owner notice of between 14 days and one calendar month."

The Minister also urged members of the public enjoying the countryside to be both vigilant and careful over the coming days and to report unattended fires to the NI Fire and Rescue Service. Suspicious behaviour or illegal burning should be reported to the PSNI.

For further information on the controlled burning of vegetation and wildfires please see the NI Fire & Rescue website or discuss your proposals with DARD Forest Service or a DARD Countryside Management adviser.

Notes to editors:

  1. All media queries should be directed to the DARD Press Office on 028 9052 4619 or email: DARD Press Office. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.